Tuesday, April 8, 2008

An 8 Foot Punt, An 18 Foot Timber, And A Windstorm - A Camp Is Made Of Wood Part 3

From the clearing we park the vehicles in, we found the easiest way to get wood into our land. Sort of. You see, it is a 500 meter walk to the side of the small lake, and it is all downhill. Until you have to go back up of course. From there, you have to go across the lake, and meet up with the path on the other side. Then it is a kilometer or so to the actual lot. Sounds easy, i know. During the winter, with the infamous 85 Chevy, we got most of the wood across the frozen lake, and left it next to the path, to haul it the rest of the way in the Spring. One of the bigger challenges was roof trusses. We decided we would build them, and through the good fortune of a demolition project, we found 18 foot timbers in excellent shape, perfect for our roof.

Now the challenge. It is spring and we want to start building. You can't have a camp without a roof though. So the solution is simple. Very simple. We will bring them over on the boat. The boat being an 8 foot punt, more than 15 years old. So Derrick got elected to drive, since it was his boat. On his first trip, we load 2 18 foot timbers onto the punt, from front to back, one on each side of Derrick. On the back of the punt, a 1 &1/4 horsepower Johnson, older than me. We push Derrick out from the shore we he can drop the motor and start it. One pull, two pulls, three pulls. Thirty pulls, even more cruse words. There is no motor sound yet. None of us ever saw what would happen if you put two 18 foot timbers across the length of an 8 foot punt, and then started to gust the wind, until that day.

It looked harmless. The wind grew slowly at first, then the gust got strong. By this time Derrick has pulled 100 times or more, and still no start. He is in the middle of the lake, and has no oars because they were in the way. The boat slowly starts to rotate counterclockwise. Then gets a bit faster. Then faster still. Within a minute it looks like a carnival ride. Spinning at a good clip, with Derrick still pulling away on that motor. Then, he gives up. He is a prisoner of the wind, the boat, and the wood, and can only watch. The wind spins him still and now is leading the boat into a cove still on our side of the lake, with a rock shoal jutting out ahead of him. The next 10 seconds is an excruciating mix of scraping noises, bangs, and crunching sounds, followed by the proclamation, "Jesus Christ!".

A perfectly sound old boat now had three leaks. They were slow, and manageable, but still leaks that weren't there 5 minutes ago. The boat sat on the rocks until the wind subsided. We walked down, handed the oars into the boat, and pushed it off into the now calm water. Derrick gave the motor one last pull, just for the hell of it. It purred right away. If Derrick had looked back, he would have seen three guys sitting on the shoal, laughing to piss themselves at the dance of the 18 foot timbers, and a motor with a personality of it's own.

The punt still sits by that small lake, on a homemade boat stand. It is heavily fiberglassed, and the sides feel mushy. It leaks at a pretty steady pace, and more or less looks like hell. Every year though, we take it across to the shoal on the opposite side of the lake, where it once crashed like our own version of the Exxon Valdez, and we get out and fish what we have discovered is one of the lakes best spots for large trout. It was like the boat, the motor and the 18 foot timbers all conspired to lead us there. The punt sits in the woods like a trophy at lakeside. If you walked by it you wouldn't dream of putting it in the water. For us though it is a landmark for the best trout fishing any of us have ever been lucky enough to find.

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