Boating 2014


Well, I'm really behind on writing this year. When April rolled around, I told myself that I'd have plenty of time, the season hasn't even started yet. Then May came (and went) and I told myself that it was still early on, and I'd still have time to get to it eventually. Then June came and went, followed by July, and then August. Now here it is September, and now that the season is pretty much over, I'm finally sitting down to start writing about it. On the one hand, it won't be done, as it has in years past, in fragments as the season progresses. No, this time, it'll be a "once and done" thing. On the other hand, I may forget a few key things that happened early on in the season, as my memory is not as great as it once was. Fortunately, I do have a bunch of pictures which document the summer's activities fairly well, so I should be ok. The most notable thing I have to say about this season, is that it flew by at seemingly record speed. Things were just getting going and now it's time to close down again. I don't know if it's that age thing where the older you get, the faster time seems to fly by, or whether it's simply the fact that we had so many activities going on this year, that it just made the time whiz by. Maybe it's a little of both.  


Anyway, I'll start off, like I usually do, with a yearly weather synopsis. This season started off pretty much like it did last year. It was a winter full of cold, with many snow events. But they were not real heavy snowfalls, there were just a lot of them. Enough to make driving a hassle and to add another snow day to the make-up list at end of the school year. And like last year, this past winter just didn't want to quit.  The lake froze over pretty solidly this year, and it had ice on it right up until the 2nd week of April. Maybe this is what a normal winter is supposed to be like, but I had gotten used to much milder winters in recent past seasons, and I miss those. I set up camp this spring, in the beginning of May, and the trees weren't even starting to get green. It looked like the beginning of April rather than the beginning of May.... On the bright side (for me anyway), the summer turned out to be not all that hot and humid. I didn't need to run the air conditioner nearly as much, and it was a lot nicer sitting outside and on the boat. But there were more than a few days where we were bundled up in sweatshirts and the girls froze on a few occasions while they still insisted on going tubing.


Gas prices haven't changed much either. We're still in the mid $3.50/gal range. It occasionally fluctuates up and down 10 or 20 cents, but it always seems to find its way back to the $3.50-ish mark. I don't think we'll ever see prices back at even the $2 a gallon mark. And that really sucks, especially when you go through 15 -20 gallons of boat gas during each outing. For once I'm glad I don't have a big twin engined cabin cruiser.


As I mentioned before, I set up our mountain home as usual, in early May. But it looked (and felt) much more like the beginning of April, with many trees yet to open up and show their leaves.

This year, the boat needed a little bit more prep work for the spring and summer season. I needed to pull the outdrive to check the alignment, replace the gaskets and sand and paint the spots where corrosion was starting to bubble up. It took a while to dial the alignment in because it was off just a tad horizontally, and there is no real way to correct it. So I got it as close as I could. It ended up better than it was.

I got everything bolted back up and it was ready to roll. Once again we were splashing the boat right around Memorial day weekend..


I decided to try backing the boat into the slip this season. It makes loading and unloading much easier. But backing in is a little trickier than driving in bow first.


On our very first trip out, I let my daughter take the wheel. She looked like she was having fun. And when I realize that she'll be old enough to (legally) drive a car in less than 2 years, I'm reminded of just how fast the years are flying by........


(June - July)

The month of June had us settling into our usual routine of beating the stuffing out of my daughter and her (un)lucky friends on the tube. But by the end of the month, the old two seater tube had split open the seams which divided the inner tube into 5 separate air chambers. That gave it a bloated appearance and it didn't handle the same either. Far easier to wipe out on turns.



So for the meantime we had to break out the larger 3 person tube. While it is bigger, heavier, and generally a pain in the rump to handle and store on the boat, it ends up being the better choice when we have more victims to torture. The facial expressions of the riders are priceless. And now we could have them in triplicate.




We even managed to launch another budding astronaut nearly into orbit. And the funny thing is that the kids thought THEY were the ones having fun.....




This year, like last, we got lucky with the weather gods and they allowed us once again to enjoy another fine 4th of July fireworks display. Like last year, we got an early start and beat the crowd down to the end of the lake to find a suitable spot for viewing the show. But it didn't take long for the crowd to arrive. And with all those anchor lights showing, it was a little light show in it's own right..





I saw an unusual lighting arrangement on a boat during the show. Looked kind of neat but I don't know if it's legal.





And as usual, the fireworks didn't disappoint. And I actually managed to get a decent shot of one, which is tough to do with no tripod and on a rocking boat.




And as usual, the ride back was "interesting". A combination of pre-plane speed, while the raucous crowd of huge wake producting boats slowly dispersed, followed by short runs at minimum plane speed so that we could make it back to our dock before midnight, while not burning a half a tank of gas in the process. My wife is nervous about running at night, but I like it. It reminds me of my 1980's antics on Barnegat Bay and even earlier night rides on the lake when I was a teenager. On nights other than the 4th of July, the lake gets nearly glass smooth, and on a warm night with a slightly cool breeze blowing, it's a very relaxed, tranquil setting.





With three months already in the can, the season was going by way too quickly. It does seem that the older I get, the faster it goes by. But be that as it may, it was now August, and I was fully aware that we were entering the last decent month of summer. Not to knock September, as September is usually a really great month to enjoy at the lake. There are fewer people around, the humidity is lower, the days are still warm, and the nights are pleasantly cool. The need for air conditioning pretty much goes away, but it's still warm enough that you don't yet need heat. In essence it's the ideal month. But, unfortunately, it's also the month that school starts, so no more lake trips during the week. And with my daughter's softball activities taking up nearly every weekend, we can never really take advantage of such a beautiful month to get up to the lake. But I digress...... So here we are in August as our last great month to spend at the lake before the realities of the coming fall season decend upon us. If you'll remember, our two person tube had developed a problem with the seems separating the 5 inner chambers opening up creating one big (and lumpy) chamber. I could not come up with a practical way to fix it, and we could not locate a replacement inner tube (and we scoured the internet pretty thoroughly). So we bit the bullet and bought another new complete tube. I like the 2 person tube much better than the three person, as it takes up less space on the boat, and is easier to deal with when inflated. This one is basically the same model as before, but they changed the labeling and graphics so it looks a bit different. But at least all 5 chambers are intact and it rides nicely.






And we wasted no time breaking in the new tube.....







This year I managed to attend the annual Wally Lake Fest by myself. The threat of rain plus other family obligations had precluded the rest of the family coming up, but I was able to do a solo run. The nice thing about being alone was that I was able to finally do the power plant and dam tours which, while interesting for me, were deemed "boring" by the rest of the family, so we never went in previous years. This year, I finally got my wish and did the tour. After having been coming up to the lake for over 40 years, I finally got a chance to stand out in the middle of the dam and check it out.






I also got to visit the seldom seen power plant at the other end of the 3 1/2 mile long pipeline that carries the water from the dam. It's a completely remotely controlled operation, but those nearly 90 year old generators are still doing their thing, supplying supplimental power to the electric grid.





Here's another first for this season. Every year we run across those roving bands of ducks who travel between everyone's anchored boat looking for food handouts. They're a bit cute to feed and it can be fun to watch their antics as they hang out. But while they are clearly used to being around people, they are reluctant to get too close. Well, one late August day, a couple of our feathered friends all of sudden decided to actually climb on board the boat. One of them managed to come all the way into the cockpit. I don't know what motivated them to do that all of a sudden. Maybe they sensed that the season was just about over and they were taking every opportunity to get as much free food as they could before flying south for the winter.







Like I said before, while September is probably the nicest month of the season, for us it was virtually a non-event. I managed to make one trip up there during the week (alone of course) to clean up and bring home the boat for the winter and to start cleaning up the trailer to prepare for its winter nap as well. Like in previous years, the boat cleaned up fairly easily thanks to the help of "Iron Out" and my pressure washer. Last year, I thought that I'd need a new battery this season, but it was still holding out. I have to figure next year it'll need replacing. But I really have to be pleased with Interstate batteries. They really do seem to last. The first battery only lasted 3 full seasons before quitting the next spring. This battery has 4 full seasons under its belt and it's still going. Although I'll make the call next spring. Also, next spring, I'm going to change the water pump impeller. They recommend changing it every other season, and I'm up to my 8th season so far, so I'm a bit overdue. I haven't had any problems overheating yet, but I don't want to push my luck. I'm also going to replace all of my sacrificial zinc anodes. They're getting a bit crusty, so it's probably a good time. And of course, I'll have to again touch up all the corroded spots with new paint. Hopefully I'll have time to do all of that work next spring. One bit of good news, the price of gas has started dropping. For the first time in years, it's actually dropped below $3 a gallon. I don't know how long this slump in prices will last. But knowing my luck, it'll be back to $3.50 a gallon by next spring. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed. So hopefully we all survive the winter and next year brings about another fun season.



See you next spring!