Fueled by Fluff and Sunshine

Fueled by Fluff and Sunshine
By Esther C. Baird/
First Published in the Tri-Town Transcript August 8, 2013

I recently spent two weeks over on Lake George in the Adirondacks where, Regular Readers may recall, we have a family camp.  It’s rustic and falling apart in many places and often buggy in a way that gives Boxford a run for its money, but there is no place I’d rather be.  Especially when I’m out in the middle of the lake where the waters are deep and clear and far from . . . everything. 

But to experience that you need a boat. 

My parents have a motorboat that’s on its last, um, paneling.  Their mechanic instructed them not to worry, because when it sank, it would do so in a slow, controlled manner.  Reassuring, and yet, not for me.   Anyway, I favor the pontoon boat.  They are stable and comfortable — like a floating couch set might be.  So I rented one for a few days.
The main stress when renting a boat is the clause about the propeller, (or prop).  You can burn the boat to bits, or loose a skunk onboard, and the marina might frown, but if you so much as think about dinging the prop you will be bankrupt within seconds. 

So while my rental agent reviewed the standard info with me, I was mentally cataloging the large rocks near our swimming area and the possible prop problems.  

At some point he said, “Now, this is a new boat but fuel gauges on boats are always somewhat unreliable.”
I nodded and went back to my precautionary prop plan.

After a day of easy mooring, I relaxed about the prop, especially because we mostly floated around out in the middle.  Occasionally we motored to a particularly good view, but mostly we bobbed about and thought happy thoughts, or ate Fluffer Nutter sandwiches.  Sometimes we did both. 


On our last day, I packed up for a final afternoon on the water.  My parents and husband had left so I was alone with our two girls.  It was sunny, it was hot, we were off!

We were off when suddenly, lurch, lurch.  We were lurching.  We were . . . stopping.

Naturally my first thought was the prop.  We were in over a hundred feet of water, but still I gave it a look. Nothing.  I turned the key and we powered on and, lurched off. 

“Girls,” I said calmly,  “I think we are stuck.”

Actually we were gently drifting south.  I eyed the islands to our east.  We were on track to float past them, but if we began to veer, I needed a plan to keep from crashing into them and damaging the non-turning, increasingly annoying, prop.

I called the marina, (momentarily thankful that the region had recently installed cell phone towers), and we walked through the various protocols.
“And what about your fuel gauge?”  The lady asked.
“Well it shows a full tank…super full.”  I replied.
“Well it sounds like you at least have some gas then.” She agreed. 

They said they’d send a guy, and I prepared my anchor just in case the wind shifted us into prop-problem land. Then the girls and I settled in with our fluffernutters and drifted.  The view was still stunning, the sun still bright.

When the guy arrived he checked the fuel gauge. 
“Says full,” he confirmed.
He then checked the gas tank, which was . . . bone dry.

(Note to self:  ‘unreliable fuel gauge’ means ‘gauge has no bearing on reality as we know it in this universe’.) 

The marina guy hauled off again to procure gas and the girls and I kept up our hard work of floating ever south (Lake George is 32 miles long) while occasionally straining to dip into our stash of Oreos. 

Once we finally received our rescue fuel we took off one last time.  Props and gauges forgotten we cruised the blue waters with traces of cookie crumbs stuck to the Fluff on our chins.