My wife Dixie and I have been blessed with three daughters and now, 10 grandkids. Living in a house with 4 women has always been an interesting experience. I call it the “estrogen whirlpool” which on many occasions aptly described the situation.
When the girls were younger all five of us loved our vacations to Lake of the Woods in Canada. First we took them to my mom and dad’s cabin in Nestor Falls. Later we were able to afford what we described as a “mini-cabin” south of my folk’s more luxurious digs. Our cabin was a kitchen, a very crowded living/dining area, a porch, and three of the smallest bedrooms ever constructed for man. Each would only accommodate a double bed which snuggled up to three of the four walls in each room.
One summer morning the girls and Dixie and I and dog Joe, the golden retriever, were fishing just down from our cabin in Gohre Bay for some lunch time walleye. Actually Joe was sleeping, but dragging a line “in spirit”. Gohre bay isn’t known for walleye, but I knew there were a few secret spots that at times held some pretty nice fish. The trick was keeping 4 females, all jig and minnow fishing, from getting hung up while also putting the bait where the fish are. Come to think of it, this was always a challenge.
This was becoming an increasingly frustrating morning as lunch time was quickly approaching. Everyone looked forward to a shore lunch, which without any fish would be impossible. By 11:00 PM we were skunked. Nothing in the live well. Zip. Then all of a sudden our oldest daughter Kristy yelled out “got one”. Sure enough, she had a nice “lunch size” walleye. Then before I could get the fish off and her jig baited again Jennifer, our middle daughter gave the alert. Just as I stumbled back for her fish Shannon called out, “I’ve got one too!”
Then, as if on cue, Dixie unemotionally says, “I’m hung up!”
Geez, I only have two hands and this required me being in three (or four) places at once. First priority was the fish. I managed to get all three in the live well. Now Dixie’s jig. A few quick rod pops and it was evident it was a goner. Break the line and tie another one on. Bait the girls three jigs. Forget about my rod. Not going to happen.
This fishing frenzy went on for about 45 minutes off and on. We boated at least a dozen fish and began culling those not the appropriate size. I was having trouble keeping up. “I’m hung up” or “got one” were heard everywhere. By the end of this hour of fishing frenzy I was simply worn out. Luckily it was time for shore lunch, which provided a legitimate excuse for the “lines up” order from me, El Capitano.
Very close to our fishing spot was a nice little island with outcropping reefs that are great for lunch time fishing while ol’ dad goes about building the fire, cleaning the fish, and other culinary duties, all while taking a much anticipated break from guiding. I beached the boat and Dixie immediately reminded me that potty stops were a first priority, so I was instructed to go to the other side of the island until given a verbal “all clear”. Dutifully I quickly left as I bellowed out wood gathering assignments to my 4 lady fishermen.
Soon enough the girls were depositing their firewood by the often used fire pit area and I was busy filleting lunch. It was about this time that we first identified the crisis. I asked one of the girls to get some of the fishing rods so we could fish from shore. “Dad, where did you move the boat to?”
Hmmm, this was a pretty small island, so hiding a boat wasn’t exactly a rationale activity in my mind. “I didn’t. Go get the rods.”
“Dad, I think the boat is gone”
Now the boat is either here or it isn’t. Right? I mean, how hard is this? I put down my knife and ambled back to where we beached the boat. No boat. I looked up and …..boat! About 200 yards off shore. Floating freely. No one in the boat. Ooops.
I had guided for many years and for many years had fished with family and friends. This had simply never happened. Thinking of myself as a fairly competent swimmer I shed my jeans and shirt and dove in swimming at full speed toward the boat. I was probably making 3 or 4 miles an hour. The boat, on the other hand, was making about 6 to 8 miles an hour away from us with the prevailing south wind. This was not good.
Soon enough I realized it was time to turn back. I had to swim back as far as I swam out, but now with far less enthusiasm and energy. Pulling myself ashore I looked at my family who looked at me like owls trying to logically explain the unexplainable. We were officially marooned.
Fortunately Gohre Bay isn’t really that secluded. I was sure a boat would come along and we could signal for help. And it did. We waved our hands and jumped up and down and they waved back and smiled. “those folks are sure having a great time” I imagined the occupants saying. I waved my rain suit over my head and they waved something just as large over theirs! But they still keep going away, the boat getting smaller and smaller.
More boats, more waves, more smiles, no rescue. This went on for hours! We waved, they waved back. Even Joe joined in with his barking, but no one came toward us. They passed, smiled and waved, and proceeded on. Marooned. Were we about to become another Gilligan’s Island episode? Damn.
Now the fact that I’m telling you this story obviously betrays the ending. Finally a wonderful lady (by this time the MOST wonderful lady on earth) and her son came by our island and inquired if we had “lost a boat”. Let me see. Here are 5 people and a dog on an island, far from the mainland, and they don’t have a visible means of transportation. “why yes, I believe we did” I thought.
“Yes”, I said, “one of the kids forgot to tie it up”.
In my 70+ years I have never seen 4 women turn so ugly so fast. “One of the kids? One of the kids?” You have got to be kidding!” All I can figure is it’s a “guy thing”. It just sort of blurted out of my mouth. No brain waves were involved. Involuntary reflexes opened my mouth and it rolled out. I had no control. The same male genes cause us to not ask for directions, ignore any assembly instructions for any item, consider our thoughts profound, and in this particular case not admit we let a boat float away. None of my female clan had the slightest idea why I said this. It’s also fair to say that all these years later they still do not. You gotta’ be a guy to understand.
Anyway, our good samaritans quickly retrieved our boat and refused to accept lunch, some minnows, Joe’s affection, or Dixie’s repeated “can we do anything for you” offers. They were just happy to help out. As they putted away the nice lady did give me a knowingly suspicious look. And Dixie pointed to me in silence. The nice lady smiled.
As we headed home I realized that once again we had created another memory. Only many years later would it become a “wonderful” memory. And the three girls and their mom still remind me who really lost the boat.