When seeing the foreboding forecast for later in the week – slushy sloppy measurable accumulations – my WoodyBoater friend Steve Upham suggested that we go for a “last hurrah.” After all, his 1939 Chris Craft 21’Deluxe Utility was still in the water. The only problem might be today’s forecast – highs in the low 40s and a 15 knot breeze from the north.
Since I subscribe to the philosophy that a bad day on the water is still better than a good day at work, I accepted. And who knows what photo op might present itself…I donned an under layer of thermals, grabbed my camera bag and headed for the lake.
Arriving at the marina where Steve kept “Ewe Boat,” I checked the latest weather. My iPhone reported a balmy 38* but the sun was trying to peak out and it was supposed to warm up a bit. But when I opened the truck door, a stiff nasty northern wind threatened to blow the door off.
Steve already had the cover removed, motor warmed up and was pulling into the fuel dock by the time I convinced myself to brave the breeze. With it this chilly, how far would we go? Did we really need fuel?? Steve is the always prepared type, so he put eight gallons in the boat, just in case we went on a three hour tour. We might freeze and starve, but we certainly wouldn’t run out of fuel.
“Ewe Boat” is a very well maintained utility still sporting her Model K engine. Rather than adjust the carb for the cold weather, Steve feathered the choke some to keep the motor purring. He warned me that the steering wheel column might squeak some due to contraction, though it behaved today. He’s owned the boat for 48 years, so he is well acquainted with it’s quirks.
As we headed out of Warner Bay into the increasing wind, the sun decided to kiss some of the remaining fall foliage making the chilly day most beautiful. In the main body of the lake, we encountered some fair sized whitecaps which threw spray over the boat as Steve throttled up the mighty K.
Despite keeping the bow up, the wind whipped water over the decks, against the windshield and eventually under Steve’s seat. Nothing is worse than a wet cushion in the off season. Steve promptly did a “Ewe Turn” – yes, pun intended.
Heading south with the wind resulted in a drier ride. We edged west as we approached Long Island, the lee giving us a respite from the biting breeze. It was much calmer here, so I tried to be creative with the camera, setting it on the foredeck for a low profile shot.
Long Island really isn’t that long, so soon we were back in the wind. Steve executed another Ewe Turn and we headed back for the marina, meandering through a couple of the more protected bays on the way. The sun started to fade as a huge bank of dark clouds approached.
At one point, the sun was reflecting directly in front of us. To our right, it was sunny, the water blue and looked inviting. Off to the left, the ominous clouds loomed making the water look gray and angry. Perhaps it was winter itself settling in early on the lake. We didn’t hang around to find out.
Despite the chilly and uncertain weather, it is the boat ride that warms your soul.
Many thanks to Steve for a wonderful last hurrah on Lake George.