By Randall Grantham
While I’ve been working out and getting my upper torso in shape with the Brickmaster 2000 (also known as cleaning 2000 plus bricks), I wanted to let you in on another great new exercise routine for the bottom half of the body that I recently discovered while boating in Homosassa.
Every year we meet my father-in-law and his wife at our doublewide on stilts in Citrus County to celebrate his birthday. We always rent a pontoon boat from our friend John at the Riverside Resort (by Monkey Island) and make full use of the shade from the Bimini Top as we cruise the waters and backwaters of the Homosassa.
This year, his 84th, was no different. We reserved our boat a month or so in advance and stocked up on oysters and beer. The big day arrived and we piled onto the party barge, fishing poles and coolers at the ready. After signing the boilerplate forms agreeing that I would not leave the Homosassa River proper, nor venture past Marker 26, we proceeded to do just that.
Those rules are made to keep newbies from crashing the boats or getting out of their return range. So I, as a local, didn’t need to worry about them, I told myself. For the most part, I was right. We cut over at Marker 69 and headed out Mason Creek to my secret grouper hole. Did all right, too. Caught fish and had a grand time. It was just on the return trip, that we encountered a few…snags, shall we say.
I had noticed during the day that the steering would click every now and then. Nothing I could do anything about and it didn’t seem to affect the boat, until we got about half way back up Mason Creek. That’s when the click was followed by the complete loss of all steering.
“The helm’s not responding, Captain.”
I immediately came to a full stop and ordered the anchor-girl to drop anchor. The tide was rushing in and there were at least two treacherous cuts that we needed to maneuver to get in to Petty Creek and back to the Homosassa River and thence home. Without steering we would be sent onto the shoals. In other words, the Minnow would be lost.
To the delight of the women on board, we co-opted the help of two youngish, shirtless fishermen who agreed to tow us through the cuts, but then what? We couldn’t call the marina for help. We were outside of our designated area. They might come get us, but at what cost? It was at that point that a solution came to mind.
While being towed, I found that turning the motor one way or the other helped our vessel follow the track of the smaller towing boat. So I sat on the motor and used my butt to turn it with my legs pushing on the transom. After they had pulled us as far as they were going, we decided to continue butt-steering the boat under it’s own power.
I sat on the motor, while my father-in-law was at the power (and tilt, as he reminded me on several occasions). At just over idle speed, we were able to safely drive the boat around the rest of the hazards I knew lay waiting until we were safely on the main river and could call for help. It was a great workout.
Of course, the sight of us cruising up the river in that manner was fodder for jokes. “Does that boat have in-butt or out-butt drive?” “What happened? You crack the butt-head?”
In any event, we got in safely and even got a discount on the rental because of the break down. So, if you ‘re planning on renting a boat from Riverside, ask for number two.
Seriously. It has a brand new steering cable.
–Randall C. Grantham is a lifelong resident of Lutz who practices law from his offices on Dale Mabry Highway. He can be reached at . Copyright 2010 RCG
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