It was a beautiful Texas Summer Sunday Morning. Custom made for fishing on Lake Marble Falls. So we decided to blow off boring, sweaty chores and wag our little boat to the ramp. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the fish were biting (hopefully).
After a few minutes of prep (organizing gear, having coffee, getting food and refreshing adult beverages loaded into the cooler), we were off to the lake.
While Lake Marble Falls ain’t the biggest or grandest lake in the Highland Lake Chain, it is our fave. Why? A few reasons.
1. Location. It’s boat ramp is the closest to the house. We can leave 98 and be on the water in 40 minutes or less.
2. Smallness. Although smallness of a lake bothers some people, it suits us fine. Smallness usually means less jet skis, ski boats, kayaks, bass boats, pontoon boats, yachts, ocean liners, and the like. No matter where you are on the lake you can see the bank on both sides of you. It’s basically the river with dams on both ends to stop the flow a bit. Everyone (who’s anyone) goes to the bigger, more advertised (and therefore better?) lakes in the chain. You know~ the ones with boat up restaurants and bars, water playgrounds, and giant marinas. That’s fine with us. Hell, even the folks who live in the city of Marble Falls go boating elsewhere.
3. No waiting at the boat ramp. Usually. We try to get there before the families teaching the kiddos how to ski arrive on the scene. Sunday before church lets out is the best. I like to think it’s because all the boaters and fishermen are in their allotted pews, singing hymns, listening to the preacher, & thinking churchy thoughts. But the real reason no one is on the lake before noon (on Sundays) in Texas is because of the fact you can’t buy beer until 12:01 p.m.(noon) on Sundays. Planning ahead helps with that.
We got there early, launched our trusty boat, and headed to our new favorite fishing spot. His first chunk brought a big old channel cat out! I was so excited! Of course he was excited too, but didn’t dare show it, he is a man after all. The morning proved pretty lucky for fish, we were bringing in keepers right and left. It was great. It was fun. It was great fun.
Then the clouds moved in.
At first they looked innocent enough. All puffy and fluffy and beautiful like a summer cloud should be. One looking like a lobster, another like a penguin. I love clouds and enjoy viewing them. Especially after last summer when there were no clouds at all, none.
They drifted across the lake and I was mesmerized by their beauty. I watched them build and was totally focused on how fast they churned and towered overhead. It was very relaxing and enjoyable….
Oooh, a sprinkle. Isn’t this fun, honey? It’s cooling us off and it looks so neat hitting the lake. Too bad the fish have stopped biting, but I’ll bet right after this wee shower they will turn back on. Hand me a beer and let’s enjoy the rain shower. After all, didn’t we wear our swim suits for a dip later? This is better because….. well, it’s better because…..
The fun summer shower got old in a hurry. The (at first) cute and friendly little cloudburst quickly turned into something scary and it freaked me out. I tried to act cool (my husband was not phased in the least ~ his biggest problem was his lighter got wet and he couldn’t light his cigar) and fish. Ever been in a boat during a hard rain? It might be okay for a few minutes (after all we have been in a drought for the last 4 years and every drop counts) but I must admit after about 15 minutes of cold drenching rain I wasn’t having fun anymore. Sure, we were safely tied up against the bank. Sure, we weren’t in any danger of a major rise on the lake, and there wasn’t any wind or lightening to speak of, but still. I can take a shower at home, and I came here to fish!
My first problem was that I got cold (I’m wimpy that way) the hot summer sun was hiding behind a very large juicy cloud, with more large juicy clouds building all around. Then the boat started filling with rain water. Should I say something to the captain? Should I casually suggest he turn on the bilge pump before our belongings start floating around our knees? Should I act totally bored with fishing and mention a few chores at the house I really need to address before it gets too late in the evening for doing chores? What to do?
The boat ramp was a mile away around the bend of the lake, and it was raining very hard as far as the eye could see. I really couldn’t imagine him driving our little boat thru the torrential downfall that far (especially since we don’t have a windshield (or wipers)). It was plain to see moving from our little safe spot along the bank was out of the question at the moment. Perhaps it would blow over and the sun would come back out soon. Maybe… Please?
I decided to take a cue from him and just sit tight. I kept fishing (at this point a total waste of time, why would fish care? they live in the water!), and tried to make a sandwich (another exercise in futility ~ what with the rain soaking the bread and turning the Miracle Whip into runny goo). I finally just gave up and sat there like a drowned rat. I stopped looking at the sky and went to my “happy place” (which is usually on the lake fishing).
He finally turned on the bilge pump and removed a bit of water. The big cloud drifted off and took its rain with it. Things still weren’t looking too promising weather-wise, so we decided to head for the ramp and go to the house. Great! The fish weren’t interested in our big fat worms anymore so why not get out of the lake while there’s a gap in the rainclouds?
So off we went. We only had about a mile to go, but before we got to the first bend, the bottom fell out of the sky. Again. Only this time big bolts of lightening and dreadful crashes of thunder accompanied the cloud. I was shook up. Scared. Skeert. Whatever you want to call it. My husband was calm as usual, despite the fact his lucky fishing hat was wilted and dripping rainwater from the brim onto his unlit cigar end. But he kept on driving the boat in the right direction.
That is until he suddenly swung the boat around and started heading back to where we came from! I tried to act like this was normal, riding around in circles in a thunderstorm on a lake in an aluminum boat. No worries. But I couldn’t do it. I had to ask WTF? He pointed at a giant ocean liner of a ski boat that had floated out from its slip into the middle of the lake. It was huge, it was drifting, it was all alone. He had to do something!
I must admit my selfish will to live kicked in at this point. I voted to just leave it to fate and go to the boat ramp. After all, it was giant, in a very narrow part of the lake, there was a dangerous storm overhead, and it wasn’t our boat! Why did I care if some yahoo didn’t tie their boat good enough to the dock? Why should I care if their boat filled with water and/or drifted across the lake? I was cold, scared, and ready to get the hell out of Dodge.
But no, we had to rescue this boat. Okay. Let’s do it….
We had no plan. He soon formulated a plan but didn’t tell it to me. We tied our rope to it and tried to tow it to shore. It ran into us a number of times. We finally got to the slip it drifted out of only for the both of us to be blown away by the stormy wind in the wrong direction. What a slippery wet struggle! What danger! What a pain taking care of someone else’s boat!
We did finally get it to where it belonged. My husband hopped off our boat (onto the dock), guided the ocean liner into it’s slip, and tied it off. Meanwhile, me & our boat (without its captain) drifted away into the storm. I can’t tell you how bad it felt to see him standing there getting further and further away!
I have never driven our boat. I am perfectly happy as a passenger and first mate. I can back the trailer into the water, handle an anchor, tie us off to webby, bug-infested tree stumps, make lunch, get hooks off fish, clean said fish, anything except actually drive the boat.
I can’t say that anymore.
Needless to say I had to learn and learn quick. In a thunderstorm. With no one to coach me (he was on the bank wearing the frown of the century). Dang! Let me tell you it was one stressful situation, but I took a deep breath, swallowed my panic, and focused on driving a boat. There were giant rocks just inches below the surface, stumps, and hazards (both real & imagined) everywhere. The wind had blown me into the middle of the lake. It was weirdly scary but I did it. I managed to glide up to the slip and pick him up without any destruction or calamity. I must admit I was rather proud of myself (I also learned it is a thankless job ~this boat driving).
I gladly gave him back control and we started toward the ramp. The sun came out in a big way. The wind died down and we got loaded on the trailer without a problem.
There’s a commercial out there that sells cars. The catch phrase is, “It’s what you do when no one is looking that defines who you are.” If that’s the case my husband is a caretaker of the finest caliber.
Me? I’m a nose miner.