Special thanks to Moors Resort for providing the ideal marina to host this event. For more information on the Gilbertsville, Ky., marina, call 800-626-5472 or visit www.moorsresort.com.
To find Moors by water, travel approximately six miles south of Kentucky Dam. Moors Resort & Marina is located on the west shore at Mile Marker 30 at the mouth of Bear Creek. By land, take exit 25A from Interstate 24 onto Purchase Parkway. Take the first exit (47) and turn left onto US Hwy 68. Go approximately five miles and turn left onto Moors Camp Highway (formerly Hwy 963) and then follow the signs to Moors Resort, about five miles.
Orange sand, choppy waters-but no rain as forecasted-lots of food, a little alcohol, and lots of fun. That was the 2008 Forum Blast Party, which took place at Moors Marina at Kentucky Lake September 12-14.
It all started when a few PDB Forum members gathered in Oklahoma a year earlier to throw a surprise birthday party for a fellow Forum member. The gathering was so enjoyable, so monumental, the group decided to do it again-as an official Forum gathering. Looney Toons-Dave and Alma Richards-took the bulk of the planning, spending the next few months in a labor of love, before plans went into full throttle last summer.
In order to accommodate as many Forum members as possible, Dave and Alma dotted out active members of the Forum on a map in order to pinpoint a central body of water. That lake ended up being Kentucky Lake.
"We had never been to Kentucky Lake before," Dave says.
Scouting out local marinas, the most accommodating became Moors Marina.
"Moors went out of their way to be accommodating," he says. "The rest made it sound like they were doing us a favor."
No dues were collected, except for meals at the Moors Marina diner, which needed to be paid for two weeks in advance.
While many traveled from Oklahoma, some came from even greater distances, such as Dan Williams (WoodenPontoon) from Connecticut, and Looney Toons from Pennsylvania.
The lodge at Moors Marina was the place of the initial gathering on Friday evening. Though some had been there at the surprise birthday party in Oklahoma (and joked about Seadog running into a ditch when he missed a driveway), for the most part, many people had never met in person before, only behind their PDB Forum avatars. Despite many being strangers, the event resembled a class reunion-long lost friends who hadn't seen each other in years, but still had enough blackmailing stories to make a sailor blush.
"A good bunch of new friends emerged from commonly recognized pictures on the Internet," Dan says, "I see the same icons as before, but now I see faces and remember our short, but enjoyable time spent together in Kentucky."
The hors d'oeuvres were plenteous, and everyone was having fun chatting with each other, either reminiscing about friends and politics, or getting acquainted with someone they'd never met in person, but shared a common thread-that of boating. All the way through the hors d'oeuvres and dinner at the marina diner, conversations got louder and friendships deepened.
On Saturday morning, the forecast called for rain, but what came was sunny sky mingled with wind. In four separate pontoon boats, we took off together across the choppy lake into a calm Party Cove, featuring cliff walls splashed with graffiti art. It didn't take long for PDB editor Brady Kay, Malcolm "Goofy" Sohm and Dave and Alma to jump into the water, while the rest of us labored to anchor and rope together the four pontoon boats. But soon we realized that none of the anchors were hitting bottom-none of the ropes from the rental pontoons were long enough. After drifting halfway across the cove, we separated and gathered at an orange sandy beach with an abandoned grill and zebra mussels on the beach. We enjoyed several hours of chatting, soaking and tanning, interrupted with finger food for lunch, courtesy of Looney Toons: deli meat, cheese, crackers, veggies, dip and beverages.
From the get-go, we were joined by two people who were not actually Forum members but had been invited along, both from Oklahoma: Yogi, a firefighter and the Forum Party's one and only deck boat owner, and Frank, an outspoken man with a huge, worn mug of beer in one hand he carried at all times. He told many stories that had the Forum members in stitches, but it was his story of an ex-wife versus a poisonous snake in a chicken coop that became legendary, when Frank (picture Indiana Jones) left the snake-charming to his ex-wife (picture Marion Ravenwood on steroids).
While at the beach, we were privileged to have Clint Bland (tbirder) demo an application of Sharkhide on a pontoon tube. The tubes on the Bennington he was driving shined like brand new dimes in the afternoon sun. Using someone else's pontoon, he showed everyone how simple it is to get that radiant shine and protective coating.
After several hours of enjoying the water, we reluctantly packed up and headed back across the choppy lake.
That evening was a casual barbecue dinner at the marina pavilion. A nearly full moon was rising in the horizon, and the air was pleasant. During that dinner, we learned that Alma could dance on a table top like a professional. When the Forum members made a notebook of thanks to Brady for everyone to sign, Brady, not knowing who it was for, signed his own notebook.
Brady and I left after group pictures to catch our flight home, while the remaining and newly arrived Forum members went up to Chad Peplinski's (MissUnderstood's) cabin, built a fire in the fire ring and made mountain pies. Brady and I certainly missed out-putting two slices of bread in a dual-handled cast iron toaster, they slapped in such ingredients as pie filling to make a pie, or cheese to make a pizza, and toasted it as a mountain pie. Dan did the bulk of the work of taking orders and cooking everyone's mountain pies. The only problem was, no one had saved much room for them.
"Everyone was so full from dinner, they couldn't eat a whole lot," Alma says.
While MissUnderstood was eager to serve others, he had had misfortune after misfortune during the trip to and from the party. While he and several family members and friends were trailering Chad's pontoon from Omro, Wis.-an 11-hour trip-they suffered two flat tires along the way, but still managed to make it to the reception on time. However, the next morning things got hairier. The computer on his motor malfunctioned, and the only certified mechanic in the area was on vacation. To add insult to injury, what did the wives in his party do? They took off to go shopping.
"MissUnderstood had a great response," Dave says. "As we left his cabin early Saturday morning, he was mixing up a pitcher of Bloody Mary."
Alma says, "For all of those misadventures, anyone who did not have his character would've been totally bent out of shape. He took it all in stride."
She says that people who were with him noticed his attitude was that they were going to have a good time regardless, and they stuck it out for one more night. But the adventure wasn't over yet. To top it all off, MissUnderstood and company spent Sunday night at the marina in the dark-no electricity, no air conditioning, no hot water and no open restaurants-due to high winds from a residue of Hurricane Ike.
Chad acknowledges that their room in the concrete block-built lodge was on the protected side. A/C was pointless anyway because they only needed to open windows and doors, and they didn't need TV because the weather put on quite a show for them.
"You could hear branches snapping all over the resort. I wasn't about to tow anything in that wind," he says.
What about the return trip?
"Another two tires went ka-pow on the way home," Chad says. "By then we could've made a NASCAR pit crew proud."
A later diagnosis leads Chad to believe there was too much weight on the trailer tongue.
Thankfully, within two days the marina called him to inform him they refunded his boat slip rental.
"I must say the people working there, from top to bottom, are the nicest compilation of staff I've ever come across. My sincerest accolades to every one of them," Chad says.
The next Forum Get-Together is being organized by WoodenPontoon, and is tentatively scheduled for September 11-14, 2009, at Lake Raystown Resort in south central Pennsylvania. For more information, log onto the Forum at www.pdbmagazine.com. In the Pontoon General category is the "2009 Forum Get-Together."
Already, several people have shown interest in attending, whether or not they're able to. Dan was more than happy to take control of the next Forum Party because of how enjoyable this one was.
"If I could change anything about the past event, I would not invite Hurricane Ike or any of his close relatives!" he says. "I don't actually think anyone invited him!"