Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Cold Weather Stories
Billy and I started watching the changes in the weather to make sure we would be ready if cold weather headed our way. The second week in December we got word of a cold front that was to hit on Sunday. Saturday we headed to the lake and got our parkas and fishing gear ready. We were up most of the night drinking beer and going over strategies and different scenarios to be sure we were prepared for most anything that could happen. After a case and a half of Coors we felt positive that we could handle anything. Nothing could go wrong.
We s loaded the boat and started for the lake just after daylight. The temperature was eighteen degrees and falling. Ideal weather for the lunkers!
After launching the boat we headed out of Cedar Creek and turned north toward the main body of the lake. After we had traveled about five miles from the boat ramp a breeze started blowing. The wind speed steadily increased to the point that the bow of the boat began to pitch as it rode up the oncoming waves and then slammed down and hit the water so hard the boat was sprayed and ice began to build up. After about half an inch accumulated on the windshield it was impossible to see through it so we had to sit on the seat backs and look over in order to avoid hitting tree stumps that were sticking up above the water.
The wind picked up even more and our faces and parkas began to accumulate ice. I looked over at Billy and saw that his beard was covered with ice as was the rest of him from the waste up. He must have felt my eyes on him because he turned and look at my frozen condition. Our eyes met and we simultaneously burst into wild, loud laughter.That's when I reallized the hairs in my nose had tiny frozen needles that felt like cactus thorns poking me. It was great fun but as I sat on the back of the seat I didn’t pay attention to the fact that all of my weight was being supported by my arms and hands which were in turn supported by the plastic steering wheel. The wind increased and after dropping off one particularly large wave the frigid, brittle steering wheel snapped and I feel forward busting my lip on something. I still don’t know what I hit. I can just remember how good the warm blood felt running down my chin.
The wheel became so brittle from the cold that it broke clean away from the nut that was holding it on. There was a momentary loss of control and the boat drifted side ways and took a few big waves over the starboard gunwale so I turned the bilge pump on. Meanwhile Billy found a pair of vice grips in the tool box and handed them to me. I adjusted the tool and clamped it down on the wheel nut and regain some control of the boat.
I turned to Billy and asked, “Do you think we should head back to the ramp?”
“Because these pliers are so short I’m afraid if the water gets any rougher I won’t be able to miss the stumps.”
“Well let’s just get off the main part of the lake and try fishing in the shelter of Juniper Cove.”
“Sounds good. We’ll do it.”
The waves were harder to negotiate than I had anticipated. When we finally got the boat turned I noticed that ice was building up on the hull. It was like the wings of an airplane icing up. The boat was loosing its streamlined shape and began to flounder wildly. “We need to get this thing back to shore, Billy. It is getting heavier by the minute.”
"OK, go for it then”.
So I got back to the ramp as quickly sa I could.
As I eased the bow up to where it barely touched the bottom near the bank, the ice along the shore crunched like glass breaking, and Billy jumped off, ran to the truck and backed the trailer into the water. I slowly drove up on to the trailer while Billy walked out and snapped the winch line to the eye on the bow.
When we started turning the winch handle we could only move the boat up a few inches at a time. I stepped out of the boat on to the trailer and was able to see the problem. The entire hull of the boat, above the water line, had close to an inch of ice on it.
The only reason we were even able to get the boat on the trailer was that it was far enough in the water for it to maintain enough buoyancy to float some of the weight. After securing the bow to the rubber bumper below the trailer wench I pulled the boat and trailer out of the water with the truck and walked back to secure boat on to the trailer with side straps. As soon as I saw the trailer was almost dragging the ground and the axles were starting to bend I got a really sick feeling. The weight of that boat and the odd shape the hull had taken on made me wonder how we were able to make it all the way back safely. It was a miracle.
When we made it back to the cabin the temperature had dropped to twelve degrees and the wind was gusting to around 35 MPH. We parked the boat, secured the cabin and headed to the beer store. From there we would make one more stop to pick up some barbeque and then head home to Burleson so we could watch the Cowboy game.
At the beer store one of the locals hollered,”Hey Dennis. Did y'all see those two dumb asses out on the lake this morning?”
Billy coughed and said, "You mean in a boat?"
"Yes in a boat. Right down there in Cedar Creek by you house.
With a straight face I replied, “No. You gotta be shitin’ me!”