Thursday, August 6, 2015

Boating with the Boss

By Rob Watson,

My recent attempt at going fishing brought to mind an experience from many years ago... 30 years, give or take.

One of the things I enjoy most is seeing what is around the next bend or over the next hill. As a child I just walked through the woods and down the creek bottom. As a teenager I went on my bicycle. After I built the Merry Bee, she was my mode of transport. When I could afford a ski boat I added lakes and rivers to my adventures. The following action took place just after my divorce.

During this time I worked for a big electronics company in the hill country and lake country of Texas. My group got a new boss, who was also single and new to the area. My close friend had just moved out of town, 150 miles away, so, I decided to try to cultivate my new boss as a friend. To that end, I invited him to come boating with me on one of the chain of lakes in the area. Other than the spectacular scenery, another attraction, for this lake, for a couple of single guys, were a number of nude beaches... but that is another story.

My boat had two gas tanks of equal volume. My practice was to shut off one tank and run on one until it was empty, then switch to the other. That way I knew when it was time to start back the way I had come. On this particular day we launched the boat and filled the tanks at the first marina. We dawdled at a couple of beaches then proceeded to cruise up the lake toward the dam of the lake above. After a time we left the lake proper and got into the river above it. Then the river began to narrow. We cruised past the last marina and kept on going.

After sightseeing for a few miles, the engine died. A sign the first tank was empty. I went to switch tanks. The problem was the fuel valve to the second tank was open, as was the valve to the first tank. Both tanks were empty, completely empty. Here begins one of the strangest conversations of my life.

I say to my boss, "We are out of gas."
His reply, "What do you mean, we are out of gas?"

I say to my boss, "We are OUT of gas."
His reply, "What do you mean, we are out of gas?"

I say to my boss, "We are OUT OF GAS."
His reply, "What do you mean, we are out of gas?"

So, I point to the first gas tank, saying, "See that gas tank? It is empty." then I point to the second gas tank, "See that gas tank? It is empty." Then I repeat, "We are out of gas!"

His reply, "You mean we are out of gas?" "Yes," says I, "We are out of gas."

And it was so. Out of gas, miles from the nearest marina, in a big heavy boat, with one small paddle. I began to consider a way out of our predicament. We had passed a small landing area a few hundred yards back. I had seen a truck and boat trailer there. A truck ment a road. A road would lead to a bigger road. I could then hitch a ride to a gas station and get a can and get gas. The boss could relax in the boat and watch it. There was plenty of food and drink.

As we paddled back toward the landing, I saw a small fishing boat headed our way. In the back of his boat I could see a one gallon gas can. I asked if it was full, and offered him $5 for the gas... This was back when gas was less than a dollar a gallon. He said he would take one dollar. We made the exchange... My boat got 3 miles to the gallon and we were 5 or 6 miles from the marina.

I started the motor and set the speed just above Idle, hoping fuel economy from the slower speed would get us back. As we puttered back down the river, visions of my youth and days on the lake back home came to mind. Back then, anyone with a big yard always had a can of gas for mowing their property. I told the boss to look for mowed property beside the river, they would have gas. Eventually, we came upon a large mowed lot with a house on it. I landed the boat and hiked up to the house. The owner was there. He sold me the gas from his full 5 gallon can for $5.

My boss spent the rest of his tenure with our group proclaiming my extraordinary problem solving abilities. To which I always silently replied, "Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then."

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