Lock and Damned 13

My father got a used River Fishing Boat after doing a roof for one of his friends neighbors; and decided to test this beast out on the Mississippi River.

Why he decided to test it out on such a behemoth of a river is beyond understanding. We lived near several shallow rivers including the Rock which has spots that even I could walk across. It must have been all of that Milwaukee’s Best Ice those guys were scarfing down.

When we dropped that boat in the water. It sunk to the bottom of the river. Its plug for the sink hole had dry rotted. This was a bad omen. We had to go buy a new one. So, we rushed off to Wal Mart where my dad spent like $500 on everything except a plug. Thankfully, he remembered to buy the most expensive anchor. Just strong enough to hold a yacht.

Then, we get back out on the river. Now this isn’t any ordinary river. This is the Mississippi River. Thankfully for us, my dad brought me and three of his buddies along for a trip that already proved to be potentially life threatening. We could have just as easily tested her on a far less powerful body of water. But nahooooo, he insisted on not taking practical advice from a ten year old. He wanted to embark on quest of Mark Twainian proportions.

So, he gets the motor pumping and we’re headed off onto an adventure of a lifetime. Imagine Tom Sawyer as Rush’s Tom Sawyer plays in the back ground. We rode up and down the main stretch of the river making big waves in our little fishing boat. Then, my dad decides to go river cruising. So, we went exploring up stream. An hour later we reach damn 13. Now, their’s a side channel for fishing boats. This main lock is for Yachts and Big River Ships.

I pointed this fact out to my father but he wanted to do things the crazy dangerous way. We headed into the main lock. Imagine this dinky river cruiser surround by some decent sized ships in a giant pool of water slowly rising. It’s pretty neat. We got through just fine. Then the motor stalls about a football fields distance from the damn. We were stuck there with only a dinky electric trowing motor as the damn started sucking us in.

After all, the turbines underneath the water are only the size of a small mansion. I remember standing their frozen in time as the reality began to sink in. Slowly, the boat crept closer and closer to the damn. For a moment the boat stop. Than it got closer again. We got about 100 feet from the damn when my dads buddy took charge. He tied the knot off on that brand new anchor as the rest of us cried out for help.

Soon, two Coast Guards heard our distress and shut off the damn. Those guys looked more scared then we were. They had a small river fishing boat which they  frantically dropped into the water. They made their way out to our boat and shut off their motor to talk to us. We explained the situation and they tied us off. Then, the one in charge told my dad to cut us off. My dad handed the blade off to his roofing buddy that sat closest to the anchor.

He told the Coast Guard he wasn’t going to cut us off until the motor fired up. The man agreed as his gave his motor some torque. It quickly sputtered out of existence and for a brief moment we were both tied off to the same anchor. But, they got the motor running and they brought us to safety. When we finally touched land, one of the coast guards said to the other “Holy Shit that was scary”.


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