I Fought the Pontoon…

…and we’ll have to call it a draw.

Two weekends ago my friend SaraH invited me to her parents’ cabin for two full days of relaxation and roughing it. I mean, we didn’t even have local channels on the TV (just cable) so we could watch tons of movies and shows, but we couldn’t watch the Olympics. It was difficult.

Friday morning was a little chilly and fairly overcast, so we went four-wheeling in the hopes that it would warm up and the sun would come out in the afternoon. We ended up on some overgrown trails with waist-high weeds. I wasn’t too concerned, until I saw that the weeds had three distinct and familiar-looking leaves on them. I had forgotten to pack jeans and tennis shoes, so I just had shorts and slip-on sneakers on.

“SaraH, I think these might be poison ivy,” I said, trying not to alarm her, even though we had just plowed through several thick patches of them, skimming them with each of our limbs.

“Really?” she said, backing up a little and taking a closer look at the aforementioned weeds. I took a closer look, too, and noticed the red berries on the stalks. They were raspberries*. Whew. We definitely challenged the “all” portion of the “all-terrain vehicle” name, driving over logs** and through brush. I’m pretty proud of myself; I had never driven an ATV before.

Our plan worked: by the time we got back the sun had taken over the sky, and we needed a dip in the lake to cool off. SaraH learned how to drive the pontoon and we took a ride around the lake with her dad. On Saturday, we decided to take the pontoon out by ourselves, so SaraH could practice captaining. We passed through the channel without issue, narrowly missing some loons♣, and then dropped anchor to get some sun. It was a beautiful day with nary a cloud in the sky.

“How do you suppose we close the canopy?” SaraH asked after a several minutes of drifting in a circle had caused us to shift repeatedly in order to maximize our sun exposure.

“I think your dad said it was really hard,” I said, spinning one of the screws that belonged to the canopy frame. “It looks like you just unscrew a few things and then set the frame down. That shouldn’t be too hard. Do you know if he has any tools on board?”

“I don’t know, I’ll call him,” she said, switching her iPhone from music to phone. Like I said, roughing it.

It turns out putting the canopy down only required us to unclip two cords and push back the canvas. It’s a good thing she called. It’s a bad thing she didn’t ask about the ladder at that point.

After an hour or so of sunning, SaraH and I decided to get in the water to cool off. We had asked her dad about the ladder before we left and his answer sounded either like it was under the boat or under the dock. We forgot to have him show us where it was before we left. As we contemplated jumping in, SaraH asked me if I thought we could pull ourselves back onto the pontoon after we got in the water.

“Oh yeah,” I said, leaning over the front of the boat. “Look at those floats–you just put your feet up on there and you’re golden.”

Do you know how high a pontoon sits out of the water? Very high, it turns out. After splashing around for the better part of an hour, SaraH and I decided to hop back on the boat to dry off in the sun. We looked up at the pontoon floats, which were a good foot out of the water.

“Where did my dad say the ladder was?” SaraH said, casually…ish. We checked under the boat. We tried pulling ourselves onto the boat from the water. We tried boosting each other up and then kicking our legs like crazy to get on. We swam around and around the boat, looking for an alternative. No luck. We appeared stuck.

All I can say is, thank God for trapeze class. I shimmied*** up the anchor rope and positioned myself over one of the floats. A less than graceful dismount later and I was straddling the float. Have you ever seen the top of one of those things? If they look sharp it’s because they are.

“Ow,****” I said, after landing on said float.

“Here, I’ll boost you up,” SaraH said, eager to help.

“Just give me a minute,” I said. “I kind of landed indelicately on a delicate area.*****”

I managed to plant one foot on either side of the float, and, with SaraH’s help, boosted myself up onto the front of the boat. I grabbed a towel, flopped my dripping body down on one of the benches, and sat for a minute before attempting to pull SaraH up to join me. After catching my breath, I went to the front of the boat and looked over. SaraH was still treading water. Although she has longer arms than I do, she was unable to pull herself up, and I was too tired to help pull her from the water up onto the boat. And since I couldn’t boost her from the water, she was stuck. She swam around the boat again, looking for an exit. Again. Nothing.

“I guess you’ll have to tow it close to shore and step on,” I said. At that point, I looked down and noticed my foot, which I had tucked under my body, was covered in blood. I had cut my…um…crotch.******

Using the anchor rope, SaraH swam us close to a little peninsula, found a good-sized rock/sandbar, and hopped onto the boat. She then captained us back to shore where we met her dad on the dock.

“Where is the ladder?” SaraH asked after we expertly knotted the rope securing the boat to the dock.

“Under the seat where Sarah is sitting,” he said, pointing to the bench where I was sitting. Oops.

“I can’t believe we had the ladder with us the whole time,” I said to SaraH as we walked, wobbly-legged, up the hill to the house.

“I can’t believe you cut your crotch,” she said. Indeed. I also bruised both arms in several places, my back, and the better part of each shin.

“People are going to think I’m beating you up,” the boyfriend said when he surveyed the damage.

“Well, until they see you,” I said. Ha! Just kidding…he’s very massive and manly.

Lessons: Poison ivy looks like raspberries, so leave them both alone*******. Trapeze class is helpful in many situations. And never jump off a pontoon without a ladder.

I didn’t take pictures of these bruises because I don’t want this to turn into a “pictures of my bruises” blog.

Stay tuned next week for some shoutouts! And a request from me to you. Intriguing? You betcha.

*To be fair to myself, raspberry leaves DO look like poison ivy but are lighter. Which would be great if you had the two side-by-side for comparison, but what’s “lighter” when you only encounter one?
**Yes, we drove over an actual downed log. Impressed?
♣Minnesota has lots of loons.
***That makes it sound like I had grace and agility while doing it. I’m pretty sure I more closely resembled a sloth with an inner-ear issue and poor balance trying to swing dance.
****I may have said something else.
*****I definitely did not say that; I’m pretty sure the word “crotch” was used.
******It was actually the area where leg meets hip, but I had sliced it open all the way around my upper (very upper) thigh. Ouch.
*******More raspberries for me!!
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About Sarah in Small Doses

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