Down to the Sea On Pontoons - Part III

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In Which the Perfect Boat Doesn't Actually Sink

When we last left our heroes, Harold and Mike, they were about to launch their newly restored pontoon boat, which we’ve come to know as "Harold & Mike's Scow." As we pick up the action, Harold is riding to the DNR site with the truck pulling the boat trailer, while Mike is setting off to meet him astride his trusty Sea Doo...

Even though it was a nice warm day in May, the water in the lake was still pretty cold, so I stopped at the house to put on a wet suit. Then I uncovered and dry-fired the Sea Doo, cranked it down off the hoist, checked the oil, hopped on, started the engine, and idled halfway across the lake to warm it up.

In other words, it took me quite a while to get moving. So long, in fact, that I was surprised that I didn't run into Harold and the Scow coming the other way.

The reason for this became clear when I cruised into the cove near the launch and found Harold sitting aboard the Scow, gazing at the puffy clouds in the sky and looking relaxed, drifting silently toward the middle of the lake. I came alongside, killed the engine on the Sea Doo, and said, "What's up?"

"Nothing much," he said. "Say, just out of curiosity, were you working on the pontoons last night?"

"Yes." I nodded humbly, basking in the glow of a job well done. "I chopped away at those suckers until nearly midnight."

"I was just sitting here and thinking how nice they looked."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome. And, also out of curiosity, did you happen to have the stereo on while you were working?"

"Yes. And let me just say that those speakers you wired up sound fantastic."

"Thank you. They do sound pretty good."

"They made the job a lot easier."

"I'll bet they did. So anyway, is there is any possibility that when you were finished, you just might have left the stereo running?"

"Oh." My pride descended to half-bask. "So, the engine wouldn't fire up?"

"Not so much as a spark."

"Dead battery?"

"That would be my guess."

"The battery you charged up yesterday?"


"The one that was in great shape yesterday afternoon when we tested the engine?"

"Yep, that one."

"Oh. Sorry."

"Don't mention it. It's actually been pretty pleasant sitting out here on the lake. Peaceful."

"Since you don't have to put up with the sound of an engine running?"


We decided that we had enjoyed about enough stillness, so we grabbed a rope that Harold had the foresight to have on board and hooked our twenty-four foot pontoon boat up to the five foot Sea Doo. Then we headed for our home port, with Harold looking as dignified as possible riding a pontoon boat being towed by a jet ski.

Now, if there is one thing you can count on after many years of marriage it is the unconditional support of your loving spouse in times of hardship and tribulation. She will stand at your side, strong and unflinching, even though the rest of the world heaps scorn on you.

OK, anyone who has actually been married knows better than that load of crap.

Harold's wife Donna had apparently spotted us coming and notified my wife. They stood on the sea wall, doubled over in laughter over and taking pictures for my wife to post in her carefully-maintained Scrapbook of Stupid Stuff Mike Has Done.

Over the nineteen years since that day, that old boat has witnessed some serious fun and the consumption of a fair number of beers. Harold went on to the Next Big Adventure a few years ago, my friend Tom has taken his place as the other half of the Scow's essential crew, and the party keeps cruising on. But every now and then we stop and take a minute to dump a little beer on the deck in Harold's honor.

After all, the whole thing was his idea.

Copyright © 2012, Michael Ball