Noah’s Ark – NOT!

Acts 27:32

The summer after my sophomore year in high school, we moved across the state, from the panhandle to east Texas. Jay was the first person my age to welcome me to the new community.  He was a very congenial, down-to-earth fellow who helped me get acclimated to my new town and new school.  Jay showed me where the local hangouts were: Herschel’s Drive In, “The Parking Lot” where teens congregated, and the lake where juveniles recreated. I was not accustomed to lakes. I had been to lakes, but it was rare. The only lakes in the panhandle are playa lakes, that only have water after a heavy rain. This was a real, honest-to-goodness lake.  The locals acted like it was nothing much to get excited about, but I thought it was absolutely wonderful. We borrowed a small 10 foot sailboat from one of the church members, and Jay showed me how to sail, both with and against the wind.

One summer, we had the opportunity of a lifetime.  The same church member who loaned us the tiny sailboat made me and Jay an offer we couldn’t refuse.  She had inherited a 1957 motorboat, but it had been sitting out for years. If we would take the boat and refurbish it, she would let us use it anytime we wanted.  Of course, we agreed. My dad had taught me to work on cars, and I was pretty good at it. Boats were a different matter, though.  I was excited about the challenge. WE were excited.

When we went to her land to pick it up, it was covered by a large tarp.  We lifted the tarp, shook off the dust, and…it was a mess.  We decided this was just the project to occupy our summer, so we hooked up the trailer and hauled it to the marine shop.  The only purpose there was to verify the wooden hull and old Evinrude 75 hp motor were sound. After a few days, they gave their seal of approval and we had our green light.  We hauled to boat to Jay’s house, where his dad had agreed to let us use the garage.  We had to agree to be done in a reasonable length of time. Dr. Bob did not want that boat just sitting in his garage.  Dr. Bob had five sons, so he knew the potential of boys and the pitfalls, too.

Once school was out, Jay and I worked a schedule around my job.  First, we stripped all the old varnish and paint from the hull and the deck.  Next, we gave three coats of high gloss gray marine paint to the hull. After that, we applied stain and marine varnish to the deck.  The deep red mahogany wood was so beautiful.  We drained all fluids from the motor, changed the spark plug, and polished the hull. It was a behemoth motor, capable of at least 40 mph on the water.  Finally, we had to replace the tires on the trailer.  No need having this beauty stranded by the side of the road. Our masterpiece was ready for its maiden voyage.  We named her “Lady Lazarus,” since we had resurrected her from the dead.

1957 boat

On the appointed Saturday, we hauled old Double L to the lake.  I backed her into the water, and she slid off the trailer with great ease as Jay tied off the bow.  We got in and looked around to make sure there were no visible leaks.  After several minutes, we felt it was safe to proceed. As Jay turned the key and pushed the starter button, the motor turned over twice, then rumbled to life.  A shot of adrenaline coursed through my veins. I was absolutely giddy.  Slowly, we backed away from the dock.  Bringing her around, he switched from reverse, to neutral, and into drive.  We could feel the power in the motor, effortlessly pushing this seaworthy ship along.  Five mph – no problem; 10 mph – gliding across the waves; 20 mph – we’re giving high-fives; 35 mph – the wind in our hair, the spray on our faces, the…BANG! “What was that?!”  I looked down to see a two foot by four foot gaping hole in the hull. Water was gushing in!  “She’s going down! Hand me that floater!”  We both got out just in time to see all but the bow submerged.

Fortunately, another boater witnessed our catastrophe and sped over to help us. After verifying that everyone was alright, he tied a line to the rope anchor on the front.  His new boat towed our old heap back to the dock, where we managed to get it back onto the trailer, with no small difficulty.  We headed straight to the afore-mentioned marine mechanic – the one who said the hull was fine.  He assured us we must have hit a submerged stump; the lake was known for submerged stumps.  I think he eventually bought the boat for parts.  Whatever the case, we mourned for weeks over our loss.  One very short ride is all we got, but in an instant, all our efforts were for naught, vanished.

The next summer, we opted for a camping trip through Colorado. Today, we still laugh about that summer, though.  I would do it all over again, if I had the chance. Even though we don’t communicate on a regular basis, Jay is one of those friends I can call anytime, and he can call me.  Sometimes, we get upset when circumstances don’t work out as we had planned.  In the story of Paul’s shipwreck, God’s plans prevailed over man’s.  The ship went down, but the people were safe. Yes, we had to let our boat go, but the friendship is greater than the outcome of our joint plans.



Published in: on April 10, 2018 at 12:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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