Ahoy! A landlubber hits the open waters

July 2010 News

Listen, I'm from Indiana. We don't know a lot about saltwater sea-craft in Indiana, given our state's disappointing proximity to most oceans. We are, as you know, a land-borne people who spend our time farming, jerking around with daylight saving time and being Colts fans when they're winning. My childhood was not one that involved a lot of rigging up a jib sail to the topmast or whatever. 

So it was with this sort of generations-old sailor's background that I found myself last weekend on a boat for an afternoon of sailing around the waters of my little coastal town, a pretty unconditionally delightful way to spend an afternoon, save for the brief few moments in which I attempted to sink the boat and all aboard it, which included my 6-year-old son, several lovely couples from whom I will no longer have to worry about responding to dinner invitations on time and three or four large coolers, all of whom are now totally ignoring me. 

In my defense, though I did, admittedly, attempt to point a pontoon boat directly at the seafloor, I didn't do so on purpose. By definition I couldn't, since I didn't do anything on this trip on purpose, since I didn't (and still don't) have the foggiest idea how to transport a boat through waters that have waves and sharks in them, mostly sharks. We received shockingly little guidance from the company that rented us the boat, mainly the helpful advisory to keep the red markers either to our left side or our right, and, if heading directly at another vessel, to turn the wheel a bit, or, failing that, whoop and jump up and down a lot. 

Luckily, I have been told that it is nearly impossible to sink a pontoon boat without several dozen pontoon-puncturing spears, a mid-size warhead or the precise coordinates of a giant sea monster that eats boats. Pontoon boats, I suspect, are specifically designed for sponge-brained dimwits like myself, which is, I imagine, why they're the ones afforded to you when you decide you and 10 friends want to rent a boat and go out on the water for an afternoon. Like, well you might hit a house or two, but I mean it's not like you're going to die, probably. 

Happily, I can take solace in knowing that though I might have given the deck a much-needed seawater rinse or six, some previous tenant of the boat enjoyed a much peppier experience, one in which he (or she, although, I mean, come on) rammed the front left pontoon into an object of considerable immobility, enough that it bent the pontoon's front into an angry-looking 90-degree angle, the result being that every time we bounced into, through or reasonably near a wave, a bracing spray of water showered whoever was sitting in the front-left seat. We had, by all accounts, the Splashiest Boat In All The Seas. They're totally gonna write chanteys about us. 

Read more at http://www.sooeveningnews.com/opinions/columnists/x1609361050/Jeff-Vrabel-Ahoy-A-landlubber-hits-the-open-waters

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