At first, when the boat refused to start, we did not panic. Surely, we thought, the problem was easily fixed. So my father and Uncle Joseph stood knee-deep in the lake, fiddling with pipes and blades and various other boat parts.
As I have before mentioned, I know nothing about boats. I should; my calling as a writer necessitates my knowledge of most subjects, seamanship included. I can differentiate between port and starboard; I know that one ties the halyard to the bitt and that the yard holds the sail in place. But the innards of a modern vessel? God have mercy! My mind is not mechanically oriented. Taking my car to get its oil changed taxes my knowledge of such subjects. So as the menfolk fiddled with pipes and such, and my Aunt Lily stood ready at the helm, I sat silently, praying for the repair of our vessel.
Low thunder rumbled to the north of us. A pontoon boat raced past us.
"Joey, we should get a tow," Aunt Lily said.
"Nah, we got it," Uncle Joseph said. "Call Timmy. He had the boat out this weekend. He might know what to do."
So a message to my cousin Timothy was duly sent, and I continued to wait, helpless and useless, in the luxurious seating in the prow.
A second boat passed us, and this time my mother took notice of it. "We're going to run out of boats to flag down," she told my father.
"We got it. Don't bother."
Nevertheless, when a third pontoon boat passed us, we managed to attract their attention by waving our arms and shouting. They came in close, a merry party surrounded by a cloud of cigarette smoke. The woman who addressed us had a gravelly voice; I wondered if smoking had damaged her larynx.
"We need a lift," my mother hollered to our rescuers. "There's sand in our jets."
A rope was quickly secured to the prow of our vessel, and soon, we were moving at a snail's pace through the brown waters of the lake.
It is at this moment that I learned an important fact about aquatic vessels. Whenever one boat tows another, they must travel slowly--at five miles per hour, so as not to leave a wake behind the craft. Doing otherwise can damage the engines of the crippled boat. So we went slowly, very slowly, painfully slowly, and we finally arrived at the marina where our helpful cigarette addicts docked.
"You good here?" the friendly captain asked us after helping us tether our craft to a
"Oh, yeah," Uncle Joseph promised. "If all else fails, we can call an Uber from here."
And so we settled in, the men at the aft fiddling with the motor, the women at the prow. I opened my compilation of Doyle's tales, but a sprinkling of raindrops prompted me to put it back on the Ziplock bag I'd stored it in.
It was past four. We should have been home by now.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.