Yesterday, day’s end. We’re back from Rainbow Bridge, a stop at Dangling Rope Marina, fishing (in vain), tubing (much more successful) and water skiing (I finally got up, not on the mono ski but on the kid’s skis, a little short, but hard to balance but illustrating dramatically that I am a two-ski water skier. I tried about 20 times to get up on that damn mono ski and my arms still hurt).
I’m learning the art of floating in an inner tube while sipping a cold Pacifico and it’s great, but this sprightly breeze has sprung up and keeps pushing me into the warm shallow water. My husband and Carrie are trying to catch this fish that I keep seeing jump all over the place. It’s about a foot big. I come out of the water, the fishermen fold their poles and my ten-year-old whips us all at the card game Memory, but we get better, so I’m hoping that continued practice will stave off dementia.
Then, back in the water to cool off. We’re hoping that Chee comes to reassess our generator
problem and are admiring the increasingly darker skies on the cliffs and buttes beyond us. The occasional fork of lighting cuts through and I wish I had a tripod and one of the cords you just push when you want the shutter to open. But Carrie, who, like me, has a fancy new camera,and I try to catch a few bolts. I fail.
The wind picks up and it’s exhilarating.
Then, it picks up even more and I realize that this storm is steaming straight up the canyon straight at us! We are parked where the canyon ends, which is why it was the last place available on this canyon when we parked here. We had briefly considered but promptly rejected moving over one cove over when its previous occupant had steamed away. And we are not parked very well, having parked for optimum depth for the water slide rather than security.
Our power boat is parked next to the houseboat, rather than behind it, again to optimize use of the water slide and innertubes.
The wind slams into the house boat and starts pushing it sideways up onto the beach, which would be inconvenient but not that bad except that the powerboat is in between the boat and the beach. The house boats swings closer to shore, squeezing the power boat, which starts to tip over one side because is tied to the houseboat. My husband swiftly unties it so that it rights itself but it still lies between the houseboat and shore and has a deeper draft than the houseboat, which the wind continues to shove. Driven by the houseboat, the power boat is wedged into the sand and the houseboat continues to squeeze it.The heavy sleeping mattresses on the houseboat’s top dec blow onto the beach. The bell on the back of the houseboat clangs away; the wind is ringing it. The wind howls and the lightning flashes get nearer. My husband and Carrie have raised the two houseboat motors and the powerboat motor so at least they’re not digging in to the sand, but we want the power boat out. We all push the powerboat. but it’s clear that the keel is dug into the sand, and the wind keeps shoving the houseboat against it. This is clearly not good for the power boat or the houseboat.
Lightning is flashing closer and we reason that this is the time to be really glad we bought liability insurance for the boats from the marina. Our ten-year-old, meanwhile, has been busily bringing in anything she can carry so it won’t blow away. Finally, I insist that she stay inside.
My husband is glad that we didn’t get caught out on the lake in the power boat and we see one power boat a couple coves up venture out and promptly turn around. And then we see another power boat chugging up the canyon towards us. From its high profile, we know it’s Chee. Helluva time to pick to fix the generator, but as he circles in the cove around us and we get on the right radio channel; he’s just come to make sure we’re okay. Wow.
“Holy smokes!” he says as the wind buffets his boat. He says we look secure and not to worry about the power boat and steams off to help some other people who are in more immediate trouble. What a job! From fixing generators and water pumps to rescuing boaters in a major windstorm. What a job.
We watch the wind, taking photos, and it gets a little stronger. There’s really not much we can do, so Carrie, being my kind of girl, cracks open a bottle of wine.
The storm eases.
“Wow!” says my daughter, “I am really going to have a story to tell in September!” She’s thinking land-based vacations may be more her cup of tea, but she is loving the excitement.
The wind starts to abate but we hold off on dinner a bit more because it’s too rainy to grill yet, so we play Hangman. Our daughter’s words tell the story: houseboat, tempest, buffeted, aground! That little girl of ours!
We’re a little chagrined that we’re probably going to have to have ol’ Chee help us get out in the morning, although the good news is that the power boat has kept the houseboat in water that is deep enough for us to lower the houseboat’s motors. But, it is starting to get dark so we take the Scarlett O’Hara route and decide that we will think about it tomorrow.
We start dinner and then see this beauty of a motorboat, the Sundancer, approach us. We’d seen zipping around us earlier in the day when we had been farther down canyon, fishing, water skiing and exploring cool little grottoes. It’s a Good Samaritan, who’s been coming here for 40 years. He, his younger cousin and the younger cousin’s three-year-old, dressed just in a lifejacket and his little “big boy” underpants, survey the situation. The little three-year-old doesn’t talk, just holds up three fingers when i ask how old he is, but does not miss a thing. He is in high heaven.
Our main good samaritan looks at our site. “It’s not a very good spot,” he says. He tells us that next time a storm comes up, fire up the engines, beauuse you can use them to outmaneuver the wind. Also do a better job with the anchors. Although frankly, even it they had been tighter, the boat still would’ve swung the same way.
I pull up the anchor ropes. My husband lowers the motors, our Good Samaritan ties his beauty of a boat to the rear of our massive houseboat and pulls it away. I video taped it but it doesn’t do justice to the power of that little boat! Some stuff, you just gotta see. While Good Samaritan No. 1 pulls our house boat away from the beach, his cousin holds on to the powerboat so it doesn’t drift away. Once the houseboat isn’t squeezing it, the powerboat unwedges easily.
Good Samaritan No. 1 drives up to the houseboat to untie the Sundancer and accepts a cold Pacifico from Carrie, dancing up to the bow of his little boat so nimbly that it is clear that he has done this particular operation many times.
He directs Gary on how to maneuver the house boat so we have the pontoons more evenly lodged on the beach, Carrie is repositioning the powerboat, which drifts a little faster than she expects into shallow ground,, so she leaps out to push the boat away from land and then, as she pushes it away from shore (motor still idling), has no footing to use to boost herself back up onto the power boat, but powered by adrenaline somehow manages to pull herself up the side of the boat. Holy moly! This is when being a trainer and member of the San Francisco Vikings, an over-40 soccer team that has won eight national championships, pays off.
Gavriela, meanwhile, is tallying up what Carrie and I owe her for every time we say a word we shouldn’t say in front of her. All I can say is, we managed to hold off hte the worst. It’s only a quarter a pop, but between the two of us, it’s starting to add up.
I resolve to visit the Good Samaritan in order to get his address so we can send him a thank you note, to see their houseboat (which we had also noticed earlier, it is spectacular! Even has a pirate flag on it) and to find out when they sail Lake Powell so that next year, we can just follow them.
We wind up the night with push ups (me, with Carrie spotting me, because I hope it will help work out all the knots in my arms from my vain efforts to get on that single ski) and Gary doing planks, also spotted by Carrie.
Why? Heck if I know!
Morning dawning sunny and serene here on Rock Creek..