The old Row Boat

     When I was a small child,  I would go to camp with my Mother and Father.  This was  back in the late 40's when I began my adventures at Groton Pond.  Our only means of water transportation was a heavy wooden row boat, with wooden oars. That row boat was used for everything.  Dad would pile lumber across the width of it and row the boat to camp.  (there was no roads to camp)  We used it to play in it, and on top of it.  We would nap in it, read in it, fish in it,   and the old boat would serve as a place to have lunch, and view the under water world and dream.  When it was flipped over it would be used as a float to lay in the sun, , dive off of, and hide under. This was the most valuable and precious toy I had at camp.

     As a child, I would spend hours playing with the boat. My mother would allow me to take it by myself,  if I followed her rules. The rules were that I had to stay close to the shore , wear a life jacket and keep within visual range. If it became windy, I was to row to shore, tie the boat up and walk the path back to camp.  I think she knew I wouldn't go too far.  The old row boat was heavy.   I was just a little kid, it would take me forever to pull those old heavy oars back and forth and go any distance. Our camp was within eye sight of Beaver Brook inlet,  where there was plenty of interesting things to do, including fishing, catching frogs and crayfish, and watching wildlife...

      At this time, where the inlet emptied into the pond, there was alway a big fish or two lurking nearby.  This one time I remember very well.  It was a hot afternoon, when Mother allowed me to take the boat and row down to the inlet.   I had a small rod and reel and planned to fish with worms that I helped Dad dig the night before.

     After arriving there, I was supposed to drop the anchor, an odd shaped piece of cement with a rope attached to it.  I didn't use the anchor much because it was heavy, hard to pick up and drop over the side of the boat and harder to pull out.  This particular day the water was calm, except for the bubbles and ripples coming out of the inlet.

     It was a beautiful day,  sunny and quiet.  I remember even as a small child,  the beauty of the pond.  The sound of the running water from the brook,  and birds singing.   I proceeded to bait my hook and cast out my fishing line  Reeling the line back in was difficult. It was catching on something.   I had to row into the weeds and untangle the hook from a dead tree branch that was lying in the water.  After retreiving it,  then  rebaiting my hook, I cast over the weeds towards the shoreline. I just knew there was a big one waiting for me. Dad always said that's where the big ones were.

     As I sat there with pole in hand, I heard Mother calling to me from the dock in front of our camp,  She was checking on me to see if everything was o.k.  I waved and then she waved back and then disappeared back onto the shoreline 

     I waited and waited, no bites today.  I watched a bird on a tree branch above me, dive straight to the surface of the water and catch a fish.  It just spured me  to keep on trying, still no bites.  I reeled my line in and rowed a bit closer to where the bird had just caught a fish.  I cast my line in and waited and waited.

     All of a sudden it happened  Bang !  The pole was almost ripped out of my hand.
What ever was on the end of this fishline was strong and it just kept pulling.. Under the boat went the line.  I  was sure it was going to break.  Then the fishline went into the weeds, then out it came again. Holding the pole with both hands, all I could do was hold on.  No time to try to reel in.  Suddenly I realized the boat was moving,  yes moving.  I was slowly being towed down the shoreline, and I didn't know what to do.I was just a little kid....

     I yelled for Mother.  She heard me and appeared on the shoreline to see what was going on.  She said later, " she never saw such a sight in her life". " Here is this little kid in a big rowboat, holding a fishpole with both hands,  being pulled slowly down the shoreline." ( in the opposite direction)   I yelled to her that  I caught something  really big and that I couldn't reel it in and its pulling the boat. She yelled " let go of the pole". 

     Now I was getting scared.   I let go of the pole, but as I did, it flew over the top of the boat and  wedged under the seat at the bow of the boat.  The boat was still moving. "Drop the anchor" Mother yelled.  I got down on the floor and rolled the anchor up and over the side of the boat and pushed it into the water. The boat came to a halt.  By this time Mother had run down the path next to the shore and was wading out to rescue me. ( in her dress, with an apron on)

     The fishpole was still caught under the seat of the boat. The next thing I know Mom was climbing into the boat and grabbed the fish pole.    I heard a lot of splashing near the front of the boat..  She started to reeled in the line but then it snapped and broke.    We never saw what I had caught with the fishpole that day.   But it was one heck of an experience and a quite a fish story that I still remember today. 

     Dad said that it had to be one of the biggest fish in the pond and I had caught it.  I was pretty proud, because both he and Mom told everybody the story and they said I was quite a fisherman for a little kid.  All I know is that I had myself quite a ride that day and lived to tell about it....

Darlene Sprague

Got a rowboat ? Got squeaky worn  oarlocks ?  Here's a real handy tip.
After much rowing, wear and tear effects your oarlocks.    Want to know how to tighten a oarlock up ?  Cut the brass end off an empty shotgun shell, then lengthwise cut a slit in the plastic hull, leaving about 1/2 inch uncut.  Then curl the cut end, and insert it into the lock and tap it gently down. Next slide in the oarlock pin.  The oar will stay put in the oarlock and there is will be no more squeaking..and tighten up the hole.
*See handy boating  tips
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                                         POND STORIES  
​                                       (Based on a hear say, rumor and part truth)
​​                                                                                       Darlene Sprague ​

Names and places are being withheld to protect the innocent !

Long time ago, way back when the pond was not fully developed, there was this one family that rented the same old camp every year for many
​summers.  They had a small motor boat and have always been associated with the pond through family ties of years gone by.​​

They enjoyed the pond to the fullest.  The sun, swiming, boating, fishing and cooking out.  Days and nights were filled with fun.​​

There was this one particular summer when the water in the pond was higher than usual, due to heavy rains .  Now the family would come and go and leave their boat moored . The boat was left tied to the dock, in the water. 
​ After one torrential rainfall, the boat became filled with water to the brim, lucky for them it was only moored in a couple of feet of water and stayed tied.   The motor was above water, but the boat was below.  The only way to empty the water was to bail it out.​

Now everyone in the family was enlisted to take a pail and start bailing.
Midway thru the "bailout" someone started counting how many gallons of water was being bailed out of the boat.  The count was around two hundred and something,  more or less excluding what they hadn't counted in the begining.  This job was something they didn't want to have to do every time it rained and it was still raining.
After the boat was emptied of water, they pulled it up onto the  shore, then took the plug out.  Any rain water collected would drain out. This would make life easier when it was time to use the boat again.  No one would have to bail.  Good idea right ?  Makes sense.

Well the ​​next time it rained, this plan worked perfectly, no water in the boat, now that was good planning.  Since they used the boat often,  they decided to use it was to go fishing this one particular day.  They loaded up the boat with  fishing gear,  shoved off and  started up the motor and away they went.  It was calm water, sunny skies and an incredible day to be going fishing. 

They started across the pond,  motoring slowly and discussing where they would go to fish.  About 200 feet off shore, the further they went, the slower the boat began to move.
One of the kids spoke up and said "how come you are going so slow"? 

Suddenly the operator, (who shall remain nameless) " realized that it wasn't the motor that was slowing them down, but the weight of the water that had begun to seep into the boat...
​Yup, you guessed it.  Someone forgot to put the plug in the boat.  So there they were, three of them in the boat, as it slowly started filling with water.  (No one paniced, this wasn't the Titanic)

One might ask, why didn't  they notice this sooner and before the boat was under way, no one will ever say...They all had rubber boots on, so maybe that was their excuse, they just didn't notice their feet were getting wet..  Who knows ? Maybe they were busy baiting their hooks ! Who stares at their feet when they are boating across a beautiful pond ?

Okay, lets back this story up .  Where was the plug ?  Was it in the boat, or left back at camp ? 
Next question, how deep is the water that they were sinking in ?  What should they do now...bail  the water out, or jump out ?
​They had life jackets in the boat, but not on,  and were not that far from shore. The water in the pond is not deep , so the chances they could  swim to shore were pretty good. 
​​The water was smooth and calm. No wind.
​What do you think they did ?​​ 
What would you do at this point in the story ?

​​1. Put life jackets on,  (which they should have been on anyways, jump into the water, stay with the boat, lean over the inside of the boat and start bailing the water out.   (This would remove weight which was creating downward pressure, and decrease  the flow of water into the boat and perhaps slow it down from sinking..  (there was an empty fish bucket on board).
​2 Ask if anyone know where the plug was ? If they found it, plug up the hole, and start bailing.
3. Turn around and try to make a run for it, motor back to shore.
 ​​​​​4. Save themselves or save the boat ?
5. Throw the anchor out...(less weight) good thinking !.​
​5. Yell for help !
Meanwhile back on shore a crowd was gathering...All eyes from shore were watching.  (Thank goodness)
Two men noticed that the boat was slowly sinking and jumped into action.
​They each jumped into their own motorboats and were already approching the sinking boat and its occupants.
One of the boats  pulled up along side and everyone in the sinking boat stepped into this boat.  (Ya, the motor was turned off by now)
The second boat approched and the man in that boat, asked the question no one wanted to hear, "did you forget to put the plug in" ?  Now we all know what the answer was to that question. 
 Coming up along side and towards the back of the sinking boat, the man in the second boat reached over and put "a plug in".  Then tied a tow line on the boat. 
The folks in the first rescue boat came up along on the opposite side of the boat, and started bailing, removing the water from the everything was under control. 

​​Occupants rescued, boat , motor and fishing gear saved and as soon as the boat was emptied of water, the family of three,  all climbed back into their boat and went on their way.  They spent the rest of the day fishing. 
A happy ending to what could have been otherwise very serious.

Several factors saved the day.  No high winds or waves, good neighbors on shore who came to the rescue , and an the extra plug, and cool heads. (That's Vermont way, isn't it ?)

The end

Tip of the day*****
If you are in "the habit of taking​​​ your plug out of your boat, when pulling it up on shore, make the effort to have an "extra plug in the boat at all times"
​Attached it  somewhere in the boat , so that it is readily available if this happens to you. ( I attach my extra plug to the seat at the back of the boat) And the plug that I took out I attached to my motor near the key or pull cord.  This is a great reminder when you go to start the motor , you will see it.