....and boats apparently need plugs before launching..?!
- These two are directly related and I’m still cursing myself for such stupidity.
I was quite busy rigging up rods and the boat for two new floating friends Eric and John early this morning, and while doing so assuring them both “..no matter what happened on the river today we were sure not to have a cluster %$#@ as the last trip I took with a stoner friend Paul on the Lower Madison".
I then began to relate the short day trip last week when I invited Paul, who was another one of our customers and a nice enough guy, but had some issues I soon realized. One was his inability to do anything most people do so without a buzz - like go fishing at 9 in the morning. He also was shit for offering to drive and haul the new boat, as this meant I was putting my life and the new boats’ in his hands and when he took them off the wheel and drove with his knees so he could light his one-hitter I cringed at every approaching semi.
He’d smoked in front of me before but it was weaker weed he explained and “had scored some primo cannabis from a dispensary that had just closed”. Not surprisingly Paul was obliterated by the time we reached the ramp and could barely talk, much less operate a vehicle so I took over the chore of backing in the boat.
I could see him in the rearview mirror using all his strength to try and pry lose the small drift boat from the trailer, but it wasn’t budging for some reason and a few fishing guides began scowling at us and blowing their horns for us to move. By now he’d backed me so far into the river I thought the whole trailer might wash away and when he waved to me in frustration I applied the emergency brake and got out.
When I pointed out the chain was still attached, not 2 feet from his airhead, he said:”Oh duh” and then once he loosened the boat it nearly floated away without us.
..He immediately jumped in the river up to his waist and grabbed it with all his strength and held-on as two impatient guides launched right on top of us. By jumping in though he’d forgotten his cell phone was in his pocket and it was now ruined and worthless.
“Oh well, no biggie” he said, then went up to park his truck while I waited and held the boat in place. I asked Paul several times if he’d left the key for the shuttle-driver, as this is "very important" and he just nodded. I wasn’t so sure, but let it go (bad move).
He’d politely rigged the oars before I took the seat to row and we drifted out into the main current quite quickly. This is always good fishing right on the other side of the river after you launch, so I began backstroking with all I had only to quickly realize the oars were in wrong and the locks were on the outside, and not in.
He turned around in a panic and helped me with this task before we lost both of them, and in doing so we missed a pretty good stretch and put on quite a show for some local fishing-guides I hoped didn’t recognize me from the fly shop.
Finally he took his first cast, but only one before he began cursing.
“Oh man, I missed a guide on my rod”
..As he was redoing it...which of course meant taking the flies, spilt shot and indicator off and was about to retie them on; I pointed out he’d actually missed two as the second one from the reel itself had been bypassed.
He tried to blame it on ‘the bikini hatch’ (above), but I told him it was because he was a stoner instead. Three miles further down river and with zero fish to our combined efforts he somehow out of the blue realized that while he’d left his key for the shuttle; he hadn’t left any money on the visor, and it was determined in all likelihood they would not do it for free.
While I just shook my head at yet another stupid move on his part; he seemed especially upset over this one as apposed to the others..
"Oh man I wish I hadn't remembered that now and instead when we were down at the take-out ramp"
"What the %#@& difference does it make?" I asked
"It just ruins my buzz is all" he said and in mid-cast before bothering to retrieve, he reached into his vest and procured his silly looking faux cigarrette one-hitter and proceeded to remedy this situtation.
"Oh for Gods sakes!"
Consequently the rest of the trip resulted in 'putting the very first skunking on the new boat'..and I was determined to remove it.
Eric and John assured me they "...would do their best" as to not experience anything remotely close to such disasters and with complete confidence we launched with little fanfare and were on our way across the river in no time.
They’d both rigged up without incident and were confidently casting nymphing-rigs instantly off both sides of the boat; while I pulled on the oars with all I had.
Within less than a minute though I knew something was terribly wrong' as with each backstroke a literal wave of water would wash around my feet in the boat and I screamed;
”Oh shit we forgot to put the plugs in!”
Eric, who’d always seemed cool and calm in the shop completely lost it' and began yelling:”...we’re gonna sink for sure!"..."Oh man your gonna lose this new boat”... and began threatening to “jump out”?!
“Don’t jump out, help for God’s sakes”! I yelled
and began searching for the plugs hidden beneath my seat. It was pandemonium and I really did think she was going down, and not two hundred yards from the ramp no less. Once I found the plugs I found them completely disassembled for some god damned reason and I cursed Alex aloud for this and began putting them back together then said”%#@& it”..and immediately rowed to shore as fast as I could to drop anchor!
"Holy shit that was close.."!!
In the mayhem we managed to successfully plug the two large manufactured holes and stop the inflow, but quickly began bailing as things were still sketchy. It was several very tense seconds, maybe five minutes combined, and included a moment when John without any warning decided to climb out; which nearly capsized us in the process - even though we were now safely on shore!?
“You damned idiot, don’t ever do that again without saying so”! I yelled
“Who you calling an idiot you forgot to put the plugs in?”
He was right and I apologized as we’d only met a half-hour earlier and I did feel somewhat responsible. I should mention though in my defense, I had woken with a severe case of projectile vomitus and diarrhea after eating something rotten at a local BBQ place last night and it was a miracle I showed at 6AM when I did.
While we cut two Gatorade bottles in half Eric suggested I "keep a bucket or pump on board in case it happened again"; stating the obvious’ as would later realize he is noted for (asshole). In the chaos I looked down and spotted my camera bag floating on the floorboard and not in its waterproof protection either. At first I opened it and all seemed fine, more than a little wet all around, but still it would come-on at least.
Later, once downriver further when I reached to take a picture though, I noticed it was stone cold dead and not surprised or happy either.
The whole event exhausted me, but I still had ten miles of river to go. An entire bottle of Pepto and John, a pharmaceutical salesman from Phoenix, suggesting the 4 Tylenol I’d just chewed up was not the best idea; and I stubbornly swore at him to “..just try and catch a damned fish and forget about me”.
It was all I had and wished I’d taken some Benadryl or something stronger, but between his' nearly dumping us once we were safe and Eric’s panic and threatening to jump out I was wondering how I found such a pair of pussys to go float with. By now we were well on our way down river and I rowed hard to stay in the shade of the mountains and canyon walls as even this early in the morning we were feeling the heat and rays down upon us.
The boat was responsive and I was glad to be back behind the oars of it, instead of: "the Tank" I was in last week; which felt like it was made of pure metal and the rocks made of magnets.
Still, with my condition and inexperience I wasn't 100% yet and when I nearly hit a submerged boulder and split the boat in two Eric began laughing at my panic. I got angry and told him I’d laugh if he ever wrecked his car and his whole family died.
“Whatever” he responded and this further infuriated me.
I told him with that attitude I likely wouldn’t trust him at the oars, and he casually said:”that be fine, I’ll just fish…” (and he meant it and never offered to row once, not that he knew how anyway).
Eight miles later I was wishing I’d brought someone who could, and wasn’t so moody to boot. His brother-in-law John wasn’t very talkative either and the five fish we 'could have caught' unfortunately hit his rig; and his reaction time was retarded slow and he missed them all - apparently unaware that when an indicator was a foot under water this meant you should actually try and set the hook..?
So by day’s end we’d put the second ‘blank’ on the boat and even though I never left the oars or wet a line myself; I still felt the effects of a skunking just as if I had. Especially having watched carefully as John the novice standing in front of me whipped every single cast – hooks, line, and sinkers - inches away from my ears and head and I winced every other time.
..And so my camera is dead.
It showed brief signs of life again this evening, after a thorough drying out period and battery recharge, but there are clearly issues' that require professional rehab/repair to make it work properly again.
(Above - is the very last image taken with it, and ironically 'exactly the stretch across from the ramp' that we nearly sunk her in - and taken only minutes before we launched too.)
No telling when I'll be able to fix this as I'm still behind on my rent, electric, and everything else which requires money; but I think I’ll still fish this week and take the boat out to get that skunk off it...
...We’ll see if I’m able to record any images along the way..