Our Bluestone Lake Incident
After several years and hopefully a statute of limitations, I think it is finally safe to share the story of a fishing weekend gone wrong with the world.
Now, admittedly, it is not an unusual thing for something to go wrong when either of my two brother-in-laws or one of my best friends agree to get together with me for a weekend in the woods, on the lake, or even at the house. What made this particular weekend unique was the fact that BOTH of my brother-in-laws and my best friend ALL agreed to a little weekend camping and fishing trip. We were doomed from the start.
Day 1 – The Adventure Begins
Bluestone State Park is a couple of hours from home so I met up with Marvin (brother-in-law #1) and Richard (best friend) to make sure everything was packed up and ready to go and we headed off to Bluestone where we were to meet Greg (brother-in-law #2) who would be towing his bass boat up from North Carolina to join us for the weekend. We all arrived at the campground, got everything setup and enjoyed evening number one. Good times, right? Stay tuned.
Day 2 – A Blustery Day
We arise to a beautiful but windy day. I make special note of the wind here as it will play an important part in our story as it unfolds.
After a quick (but nutritious I’m sure) breakfast, we headed off to the marina to launch Greg’s boat and so that we could rent another fishing boat for the day. The Bluestone Marina rents small Jon Boats with 10hp motors for a reasonable fee and the lake is a beautiful place to spend the day.
In less than an hour we had completed all of the necessary paperwork, loaded the coolers and fishing gear on the boats and headed out for a day of exciting fishing. Richard and Greg off in Greg’s boat and Marvin and I sharing the small Jon boat we had just rented. Unfortunately, as previously stated, it is not unusual for things to go wrong with this group and boy did they.
First off, how many fish did we catch that day? I believe it was no more than one or two. They just weren’t hitting and, possibly, the remnants of last night’s campfire festivities had left us in a position to not care as much as we should. And then there was the wind… remember the wind? All day long the lake looked like a frothing and raging sea more than I had ever seen one of our West Virginia lakes. It tossed the small boats around even sitting still but especially made even a short trip across the water rather exciting.
We spent several hours giving a half-hearted attempt before deciding that, perhaps, the campfire along with some food and beverage might be calling our names. Picking up our handy cell phone, we asked Greg and Rich if they felt the same. They assured us they did and we headed back in the general direction we had last seen them.
Lake or Ocean, That is the Question
Now, as any man will tell you, as you ride along in a small boat on choppy water there is a sense of excitement and adventure that begs you to take risks or increase the excitement ten fold if at all possible. I was no exception.
As we pulled alongside Greg’s boat and agreed to head back to the marina and call it a day, I uttered words that I would soon regret. “Make some waves so I can give Marvin a ride!”. And so, they did.
As Greg’s boat circled one direction on the choppy water and I took the smaller boat in opposing circles, the result was a pleasant “smack” of the hull and hopping that was raising Marvin completely off of the flat seat as he and I laughed out loud. This continued to be the case for the first two laps and then, on the third circle and as our little craft raised above an exceptionally large section of wake created by the larger bass boat, that all changed.
The boat shifted violently to the left and then to the right. I looked forward at Marvin and realized with some amazement that he was leaving the boat. Not of his own free will, perhaps, but leaving just the same. While there was certainly a large amount of humor in this for me (and I probably was still laughing out loud), it was with even more amazement that I quickly realized I was joining him.
Lake water is warm on a nice summer day and perhaps even more so if you have wet yourself at the prospect of leaving a perfectly good boat unattended. Today it was exceptionally so.
As I surfaced, I was faced with one of the strangest facts of my life. Somehow, the small Jon boat that we had rented earlier that day had been replaced by a ship. The great bow of this ship was turning in eccentric circles that quickly were bring it in my direction. I am going to die here in this lake. smashed by a huge ship that is unmanned and only interested in my demise. I know it. And if I am not destroyed by the dinghy turned ship, I feel sure that Marvin may kill me.
In an effort to extend my life for at least some short period, Greg pulls his boat between us and the circling ship and Richard begins to drag me from the lake and over the side of the boat. As he pulls on me, I hear Greg exclaim in awe “oh, there it goes” to which Richard gives a final mighty pull, drags me into the bottom of the boat and stands in time for us both to see our rented Jon boat slide upside down into the lake and begin to sink as the exposed propeller of the small motor chugs a few last times. It is only then that we hear the small voice of Marvin coming from behind us and very much still in the water… “can someone help me?”
It turns out that Jon boats don’t sink so easily and that Honda motors can take a beating but, man, it takes a long time to tow a sinking boat to shore. That said, approximately half an hour later, we drug the boat onto shore, flipped it over, cleaned the motor and finally had her running. Shortly after we were on our way to the marina to return our rental. We had been able to recover the rental life vests and only ended up paying for one oar which the marina staff remarked they would have thought would float when we calmly said we had lost it. I wonder if they noticed my clothes were wet?
All told, this was a very expensive trip having lost my glasses, fishing equipment, and damaged an ipod beyond repair. Luckily, as were climbing back into the truck to return to camp, Marvin handed me my hat. When I asked how he got it, he replied… “Well, you remember when that ship came by?”