The summer day had turned dark and windy, and it looked like rain any minute. The small shallow northern lake grandpa lived on had white caps on it. Not a good day for fishing I thought, and grandpa never even mentioned going out. But as I looked at the lake, I thought the rowboat might be fun, lots and lots of fun! It was an old heavy fiberglass boat grandpa had on one end his lake property, nestled down by the weedy cove. So I went to the boathouse and pulled the boat out, a damp woody order always greeted us as we opened the door. The boat was about 10 feet long, as I remember, 3.5 four feet wide. One set of old wooden oars placed strategically so the person in the center seat could row the heavy old boat around. And it was heavy, made of fiberglass, baby blue in color. A heavy wet musty smell of the boathouse hung to the boat like skunk clings to a dog that got to close once. When the boat was far enough away I went back and let the boathouse door down, there was a big clunk as the wind helped close the door.
The boat was in a small channel that was barely wide enough for it to pass through. I pushed it out by placing an oar against the bank until the boat was free of the channel. Once the free thought the wind grabbed the boat and pushed it toward the opposite shore, towards a little bay that was protected from the big waves. It was hard to row since the water here was shallow the oars where hitting the sand bottom. It took a few minutes to get the boat going into the wind at steady pace. My plan was to stay in these lily pads and grass until I got more westward, which was where the wind was coming from. It was hard to row because of the grass yet the headway was steady. The wind had a hard time trying to push the rowboat around. The grass and lily pads acted like a wave break and sea anchor for the boat and me.
After sometime rowing I broke out into the open lake close to the dock and reeds and more weeds, wow. Here in the open unsheltered water is where the waves were the biggest. The rowboat went over some waves but crashed headlong into others. Like a ship on the ocean or so it seemed to a twelve year old. Dark were the waters capped with gray and white slashing foam. As the wind changed so did the direction of the waves. Water spilled into the boat and the left oar came out of the water, the sudden move caused my whole body to shift, which left me balancing one foot against the side and the other against the seat. Always shifting my weight to balance the changing angle of the boat against the ever-changing waves was great fun. Not having both oars in the water was trouble, as was getting turned around and getting broad sided by a wave.
I don’t recall how long I was on the lake battling against the elements. Long enough to get tired enough and to think if I don’t make it back to shore soon I might get in really trouble. I would do it again, it was great fun, but would have a life preserver on.