The Off Ramp

Photo of a couple with their boat and trailer

Near Peotone, Illinois

My family and I were on the road with our boat in tow for a few days away from the perils of our normal daily lives. I was driving down Interstate 57 in Illinois en route to Kankakee when a sudden rainstorm started pouring water on us. I pulled off the road, set the flashers and decided to wait it out. After a few minutes, my wife mentioned we probably should put the top on the boat and take the plug out. Of course I knew this was "womanspeak" for, "You better get out and do it." So I did.

It was an absolute downpour and the rain was being whipped horizontally into my face. I knew this wasn't a good time to try and put the cover on but I did go to the stern and began working on taking the plug out. As I was trying to see (my glasses were fogging up and splashed with rain), I heard a voice behind me. "What are you doing?" I looked and there's a trucker whose semi was about 50 feet behind me (he had also pulled off the road to wait out the deluge). I told him it wasn't safe to tow a boat with lots of water in it and the trucker said he was going to call 911 and report an attempted theft! I thought I was part of a Jay Leno Man on the Street routine. I told the trucker it was my boat, I got out of my tow vehicle so there is no way I'm stealing something when I already own it and doing it in the middle of a thunderstorm to boot!

By this time I was absolutely drenched and, need I say it, irritated. He said he didn't believe me and I said, "Whatever you want to do is fine with me. You can explain it to the cops but as soon as this storm is over, I'm hitting the road." I pulled out the plug and got back into the truck.

My wife was quiet for just a minute before saying, "You sure took your time with the plug."

I didn't tell her-and still haven't (but when she reads this she'll understand) about my conversation. We got to Kankakee State Park with no problems or police interference. I guess the do-gooder trucker had a moment of cogent thought.

Table Rock Lake, Missouri

I was at the boat ramp yesterday, launching by myself. I do this all the time and have the launch and retrieval down to a science. So as I was walking back to the boat after parking the truck, I saw two people sitting in my boat at the dock. I promised myself I wasn't going to "launch" into my New York streets routine, which occupied most of my past life, because they may be inexperienced about boats left alone at a boat ramp.

I approached them and said, "Hi, that's my boat and I'm going out right now."

They were a middle age couple both dressed in khaki vests, hats, hiking boots and fanny paks with water bottles strung all the way around their waist. I waited for a moment. The man got up and got back on the dock and held out his hand for the lady.

When they were both out of the boat, the man said, "You know, it's probably not a good idea to leave a boat abandoned like this."

I thanked him for the advice while biting my tongue. The lady then said, "He's right you know. You just don't know what kind of people you are going to meet."

I told her that I was in complete agreement. Geez.  

This article was published in the June 2008 issue of Trailering Magazine.


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