We're hard at work finally, putting the new site look up, and making sure all the content is fresh and newly updated. Please bear with us over the next week or two if you find something missing or a broken link or two. We are working hard to get caught up so if something doesn't work right today, please check back tomorrow!
If you're looking around for a few of the sections we had before, I'm sorry to say that some of them are just plain gone. I decided it was time to narrow the focus of the site a bit to make sure we can really do a good job of covering the things we kept around. We were getting a little thin before, trying to offer something for everyone. We've got a new sitemap here though, so you can see all the sections.
Fathers Day weekend, 2001. We got a late start out of Salt Lake City on Saturday evening, so we didn't arrive at the lake until well after 10:00 p.m. I've never been a huge fan of launching the boat in the dark, but there's a fair amount of overhead lights around the Lucerne Valley Marina and the moon was full with clear skies.
We decided (after some prompting from a local employee (who insisted that we couldn't sleep on the boat in the parking lot) that we would go ahead and launch the boat and then just tie up in a slip at the marina for the night. The launch went smoothly, and before long we were securely tied into a slip. With the girls bedded down, my wife and I enjoyed a quiet (except for the guy loudly snoring in his boat next to us) star filled evening. I always sleep like a baby when I know I'm tied securely to a dock, and this night was no exception. I woke up refreshed and ready for a day on the lake.
Once underway, we fished a little, let the girls play on the beach a little, and were basically having just another wonderful day on the lake. Then, things began to go slightly awry. We were on our way down towards the dam, and my wife decided to ride on the front of the boat for a while. Before you start telling me how bad of an idea this is, let me just say that the boat has a large rail around the front, and she seemed totally safe and comfortable there. Well, the local Park Ranger stopped us and informed us that you can't really ride on the bow unless you're traveling at wakeless speeds. He was very nice, and offered a polite warning and sent us on our way. We took this opportunity to explain to our girls the good thing the Ranger did by helping us avoid something that might have been unsafe.
Underway once again, I was cruising along at a nice comfortable cruising speed, cutting through some increasing winds and mild chop, when suddenly, totally without warning, the engine died. All indications are that we were totally out of gas. I switched off the key, the gas gauge dropped to empty, switched the key back on and it would go back to full. Ok, so far no huge problem, I'm out in the middle of the channel, and I've got time for some basic trouble shooting so I removed the air cleaner, pumped the throttle, and sure enough, there wass no gas being shot into the manifold from the carburetor. At this point, I started to assume that the gas gauge was lying to me. It was quickly getting to be time to start dealing with the problems that were starting to grow in intensity. The wind was pushing us towards the east canyon wall, a steep, rocky, very inhospitable looking place that I really did not want to become too intimate with. Flaming Gorge is a deep, steep lake, so dropping the anchor didn't do much to slow our progress as the wind continued to shove us closer and closer to the large rocks. The radio wasn't much help, our range again severely limited by the narrow steep nature of the canyon. I finally got the front anchor to catch something, and we stopped about 15 feet away from the canyon wall. For a few minutes, I was able to take a breather and work the radio again.
I did manage to contact one person for a few minutes, but I wasn't prepared to give my position correctly as I hadn't had time to really look the map over (and didn't have a GPS at the time), and so we lost contact with him before he could be any help. Finally, we flagged down the first passing boat we had seen since things turned sour. The passing boater came over, we explained what had happened, and he said he would go drop off his passengers and return to take me to the Cedar Springs marina for some gas. After he left, we waited and watched our position. A couple more boats passed but now I didn't really want to flag everyone down, so we let them pass without hailing them. Unfortunately, the wake from a large cruiser going by bounced us around enough to yank out the front hook, and we were off and running with the wind again. Now things were getting a bit scary!
I had the oars out, at one point pushing us off the rocks with an oar as the wind continued to push us along the canyon wall. Luckily, the wind finally pushed us around a slight bend in the wall, and we drifted out to about 40-50 feet from the wall. I got the anchor to catch again, and we seemed to be relatively safe again for a bit. I just sat down to catch my breath for a few minutes when who should pass by but the same Ranger who had pulled us over for bow-riding a little earlier. He responded quickly to our radio request for help, and before too long we were under tow on our way to the marina.
After a bit of a struggle to get us pulled up to the fuel dock (with lot's of enthusiastic help from the young eager crew at Cedar Springs Marina) we had a bunch of gas on board and the boat was once again running under her own power. As I finished the weekend out, trailered the boat and headed for home, I played the scenario over in my mind, counting up the mistakes I had made that turned the situation critical. First, I think I should have taken steps to anchor the boat first, instead of allowing the wind to drift me close to shore while I tried my trouble-shooting steps. Second, once my position was secure, I should have immediately determined my location so that I could call for help and get my position known right away. And third, (and most obvious) I should have bought some gas somewhere before I went to the lake. This one though I'll cut myself a little slack on though, as I was running on the assumption that I had filled the boat before winterizing it. Apparently I didn't, but I kept thinking that I did, and since this was only the second time out for the year, the first being a very short afternoon on Jordanelle Reservoir, I felt confident that the gauge was correct. At one point I remember thinking to myself "wow, I sure haven't used much fuel yet" but the gauge was going to empty when the key was off, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a gauge fail in the "full" position. I did have the dash open that spring, putting a new depth finder gauge in, so as it turns out I caused the fuel gauge problems myself during that work when I knocked a wire off the gauge.
I think also, in looking back, it's situations like these that give me such respect for boating in general. You still must be as self-reliant as possible, and you must always hold yourself totally accountable and responsible for every aspect of your crafts performance. This episode is just one more of life's lessons that I will certainly never forget, and hopefully by sharing it with you, you can also benefit from my experience without having to feel the adrenaline (amd humilitation that comes from being towed in by the Ranger) yourself.