Someday you may be invited to ride in the backseat of a performance deck boat that is capable of doing speeds you'd never think were possible. If you get this opportunity, let me urge you, with the greatest sincerity....move to Guam, change your name, fake your own death. Whatever you do, do not go.
Those in my group were throwing around terms like "once in a lifetime" and "bucket list." But me, I was just happy not to be throwing anything up. Thanks to a generous man who graciously took me and a few others on the ultimate thrill ride, I'm able to positively confirm what I've known for many years-I'm a pontoon guy.
Last spring while at Lake Havasu City, Ariz., I was given the chance to ride in a ridiculously powerful boat that is worth more than my house. The gas alone that it took for the 30-mile round trip down the river and back could have paid my utilities for at least four months.
Vern Gilbert is an eight-time champion, so I had no problem putting my faith and confidence in his ability to operate the Skater deck boat on this day. Yet there is just something unsettling about a ride where you "slow down" to 109 miles per hour because a large wake appears.
When I was able to sneak a peek while fully concentrating on keeping my sunglasses on, I was amazed to see the other boats whiz by in the blink of an eye as we passed anything and everything like it was standing still.
I'll be honest: that 15-mile trip was the rush of my life. Unfortunately, we still had to go back. We officially hit the 143 mph mark and at that point my face was as tight as Joan Rivers'. Doug Traub was in the back seat next to me and he was hitting the wind head-on too. He turned his head to express his enthusiasm for the ride, but ended up loosing all of his saliva when he turned his head. But that didn't damper Traub's spirits, he was having the time of his life. With my ears ringing, my eyeballs dried up and not a drop of saliva to be found, we finally reached the Havasu Marina for lunch at the Havasu Springs Resort. Gilbert actually pointed to a family on a pontoon boat as we were pulling in and asked the four of us, "Aren't you glad you're not on that boat?"
Apparently this guy didn't know what I do for living. I already felt like I was tempting the fate of my hair as I silently prayed that I wouldn't go permanently bald from this ride. Honestly I was just thrilled to be getting off the boat with some hair still left. Had I been in the passenger seat behind what appeared to be a bulletproof windshield on this performance deck boat, I probably would have enjoyed the ride a little more. But with my 6-foot 5-inch length and "generous" build that had me wedged tight in the back seat, I was a little sore from ducking the wind.
Going that fast on the water was insane, but a lot of fun too. It was a great experience that many will never get a chance to experience and for that I'm very grateful for the opportunity. But at the same time, I can't help but appreciate the joys of a pontoon boat. My idea of a dream boat doesn't have me sliding into the boat like Bo Duke, just to get in. Gilbert estimated that the twin 1350's used a little over 50 gallons of gas on that 30-mile run and at $9 a gallon for the good stuff, you do the math. How can I complain about the price of gas now, after being onboard that day? It was a great thrill, but at the end of the day, the pontoon life is for me.
Brady L. Kay