Beware of high water hazards

The recent high water levels have brought all kinds of interesting news.
Competing in the Emu walleye tournament, Bryan Bonot reportedly showed a predilection for switching from angling to full-immersion water sports.
No word if he plans to make the switch permanent or if he was just “testing the waters,” so to speak.
In Rainy, after fits and starts, I finally launched my pontoon boat, the “Pearl of the Rainy.” Pickle and the Runt were very happy to see it floating peacefully in its slip as they both had a hankering to go out and match wits with the wily walleye.
And given our aging, crotchety, arthritic bodies, lounging in comfort on this gem is far superior to stumbling into—and perhaps tipping over—a standard craft.
With the wind, extreme high water, and raging current, there is no problem getting out on the river. Getting back into the slip, however, takes a different skill set entirely.
Having experimented several times on my own, I found the only successful method was to approach the slip with a good head of steam and only cutting the power after the bow had entered the slip, then quickly shifting into reverse—letting the bow gently bump up to the main dock.
As I made my approach, Pickle and the Runt both were yodelling in unison, “Slow down, Elliott, for #$%^sake, slow down! Whoa!”
Instead, I gave it another shot of gas and as the prow entered the slip, I shifted into reverse and applied the power.
Pickle and the Runt both had gone silent and were as white as ghosts—bracing themselves for the expected crash.
But I eased gently up to the main dock and cut the power while they regained their composure (sort of) and took over their duties on the mooring lines.
The next time out, they didn’t scream quite as much as I charged in off the river. I think they lack faith.
Scrounger, on the other hand, never worries about anything until it happens. When his young lad ran into the house shouting that the water had washed the floating dock away, Scrounger made a hasty dash to the truck and hooked up to his boat.
The ship hadn’t been out of the shed since last fall and, other than an over-ripe bucket of bait, should be ready to go. They threw a gas can in and headed for the boat launch in Rainy.
Putting the drain plug—something Scrounger forgets occasionally—was taken care of. With his cousin, Shorty Circuit, as first mate and the young lad as lookout, they pushed off into the current and hit the starter.
“Click! Click!” Nothing. Then “Click! Click! Urrn! Groan, Urrrrn! Roar!” as she fired up and they swung out into the river. Dodging logs, they headed upstream looking for the truant dock—hoping all the while it hadn’t made it this far downstream and well on its way to Lake of the Woods.
Suddenly Junior came running to the helm shouting, “Dad! Dad! Turn on the bilge pump. We’re filling up and going to sink.”
With Shorty Circuit taking over the helm and dodging trees and massive stumps, Scrounger whipped off the engine cover and sure enough, the water was rising up around the motor, with the flywheel sending a rooster tail straight up.
Scrounger had completely forgotten to close the water drains on the engine jacket. He quickly found two of the plugs and cut down the flow.
The third was someplace in the bilge, and the spraying water from the flywheel was impairing his vision.
Afraid to shut the engine off because of the weak battery, he took the Dutch approach and jammed his finger against the last outlet. That only worked until the coolant water became too hot.
He shouted at Shorty Circuit to cut the power and, with his vision now clear, found the last plug and closed the drain hole. Fortunately, the engine did start before they were rammed by one of the massive “sawyers” tearing down the river.
They dodged on and discovered a neighbour had rescued the runaway dock. The panic was over.
The other good news is that valve job they did on Scrounger’s ticker a few months back is performing well, as he seems none the worse for wear.
Expect you’ll see him out cruising most every day. Watch for S.O.S. signals.

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