Musings of a Water-Logged First Mate
"Honey,do you want to go to Lake Powell next week?”
It was the question I had dreaded all summer.
I know what you’re thinking. What’s not to
love about Lake Powell? Houseboats and jet skis.
Sun and water and hard bodies. Sounds like paradise.
That’s exactly what my daughter said when I told her about it. “Great, Mom,” she enthused.
“When do we leave?”
“We don’t,” I informed her. “You’re staying here.”
“That’s not fair,” she complained. How come you and Dave always do the fun things without me?”
“Trust me,” I told her. “You don’t want to go.” She looked uncertain, but didn’t pursue the subject.
So, back to the question: What’s not to love about Lake Powell?
For starters, it’s July. Late July. 98 degrees in the shade.
Oh, and did I mention – no houseboat, no jet skis, and no hard bodies. Plenty of sun, though.
Oh, we saw houseboats, jet skis and hard bodies. But Dave's idea of a water-based vacation includes
one ingredient only: his beloved 23’ Boston Whaler look-alike that he has slavishly dubbed “Endeavor”.
Now don’t get me wrong. I can support a mid-life crisis acquisition as much as the next girlfriend, but this one has taken over our lives. Not to mention every vacation.
When Dave announced to me two years ago that he “had been studying the matter intently and wanted to get a boat”, I envisioned a small fishing vessel that he could enjoy by himself. Or himself and a buddy. Or himself and another woman. I didn’t care, as long as I didn’t have to be involved. Being the supportive mate that I am, I smiled and wished him luck in his venture.
Not acceptable, apparently. Not only did Dave want a boat, he wanted a First Mate, too. So away we went to Florida to pick up our new adoptee: a miniature tugboat with no galley, no real lavatory, and a bed that could moonlight as a morgue slab. Dave could hardly contain his glee. Nor could I, as you might expect from the newly-appointed First Mate.
So what’s so bad about boating, you might ask?
Well, here’s the run-down on a typical boating vacation for us:
• Thursday afternoon, late: depart Denver. Drive non-stop for 9 hours to Lake Powell as if the lake might evaporate before you get there.
• Friday morning, early: launch Endeavor. Wait, back up – launching at this point is premature.
• Friday morning, early: spend 1 ½ hours loading Endeavor with all the essentials (beer, food, snacks, water for drinking purposes only); sweat profusely under a 100 degree-plus cloudless sky; wait another hour on the launch ramp for others to launch ahead of you; get into the boat and prepare for launch while Dave backs the trailer into the water; cringe as he loudly reminds you to “wait until it’s floating before you lower the motor”; smile nervously as the spectators wait for you to scratch your boyfriend's obviously-precious boat.
• Friday afternoon: take the first of 80 hikes during the 4-day vacation. (“Honey, everyone comes to Lake Powell to hike the beautiful canyons,” Dave assured me on our first trip 2 years ago.)
• Friday, evening: Back in the boat. Moor for the evening. No, wait. Back up. Mooring at this point is premature.
• Friday evening: Drive around for an hour trying to find the safest place to moor for the night. Specifications are impossible to meet – Must be a bay big enough to “swing at anchor”; Or – must have a sandy shoreline to moor against; Or – must have adequate under-water crevasses for artful placement of anchors. Plus: Must be near no rocks or rock-like structures that we might crash into during the night; And – must be at least 5 miles from nearest neighbor. Finally, 5 minutes prior to dusk, decide to moor in the original place suggested by First Mate an hour ago.
• Friday evening, in near darkness: Captain relaxes on lounge chair drinking a beer, reveling in the wonderful hike enjoyed during the scorching afternoon, while First Mate erects the boat grill, shuffles inside the cooler for dinner ingredients among the melted ice, grills burgers, and serves dinner (without a galley).
When I have finished preparing the meal and we are eating, it is total darkness. Dave comments on the lovely night sky later, as I clean the used grill and pan, replace ingredients blindly in the cooler, and search blindly for a much-needed glass of wine.
Finally, I sit down to relax and enjoy the evening, whereupon the Captain announces bedtime.
• Friday evening, late: Sink gratefully into heat-exhausted sleep. No, wait. Back up. Sleeping at this point is premature.
• Friday evening, late: Safely stow all movable items on the boat in case of possible monsoon overnight. Remove portapotty from cutty cabin for overnight use on the back deck. Stow all unnecessary items (anything that is not strictly necessary for navigating boat away from potential over-night danger) in lower cargo area (underneath bed). Make up cutty cabin bed, trying in vain to create a softer mattress using a “fluffy” sleeping bag. Say good night to Captain and lie in bed sweating profusely until heat-induced coma finally takes body over.
• Saturday morning, early: awaken to sound of captain rummaging in the food cabinet for coffee ingredients.
“Honey, where are the coffee filters?”
“Honey, I can’t find the coffee pot.”
“Honey, did you even pack the coffee?”
Struggle out of bed and begin Day Two of the vacation.
And so it goes. For 4 days. Occasionally, I gaze at a distant houseboat, watching the Lake Powell partiers enjoy their full amenities. Over my shoulder, Dave will comment on what a waste it is to indulge in such “sophomoric activities” – when you could be hiking.
Sighing, I nod in agreement, counting the precious minutes until we can return to the marina, turn on the air conditioning inside the truck, and head back to Colorado.
But wait. Heading back is premature at this point. First we struggle to get the boat back onto the trailer, spend 2 hours cleaning and prepping Endeavor for the road trip, empty the water-logged cooler, and continue to sweat profusely.
“Well, that was a great trip, wasn’t it?” Dave comments as we depart the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. “And look,” he continues, pointing to the thermometer positioned above his rear-view mirror, “only 108 degrees. Did we ever luck out on the weather, or what!”
Yes, that is our Lake Powell adventure. Enjoyed every summer. I can hardly wait for next year.