The summer of 2013 I started to get the boating bug. I crave the water and the sunshine so I thought what better way to enjoy the weather than on a boat. We searched around and found a great older model boat with super low engine hours. Unfortunately, we bought it at the end of the summer so we were only able to use it a handful of times. But even so, we had a great time on it.
Fast forward to May of 2014. This year we had a plan. We bought a ton of boat toys and a wake boarding tower. We made sure we got our boater education cards and we cleaned the boat all up after a winter of outdoor storage. We even secured moorage on Lake Washington for the entire summer. We were ready or so we thought.
The day we were ready to put our boat in the water, we took it to the boat launch in Kenmore. It was just the 3 of us at the time….me, my husband and our 2.5 year old son. The day started out great. We had beautiful weather and I had a hot Starbucks in hand. We got in the boat and slowly made it out on the water. My husband was driving, and my little one and I were in the seat next to him.
Those of you who are familiar with the lake – you know it’s big and you know you can get pretty far away from the shore.
And it was about this time, that I glanced behind me to the back of the boat and I about had a heart attack.
There was water….a lot of water….inside the boat.
The back 3 feet of the boat was quickly filling up. And at the exact time that I alerted my husband, the engine started to make some funny noises.
I scrambled around and grabbed life jackets for my husband and I (little one already had one on). And then, ridiculously, I began to attempt to bail the water out of the boat…with…..(wait for it)….a paper Starbucks cup! I couldn’t find anything else. Of course, it didn’t make any difference but I felt like I had to do something. I was also contemplating what it was going to be like to have to jump in the cold spring water and swim to shore with a young child. Not to mention losing our boat and all of my camera equipment on board.
Very slowly we turned around and started to inch our way back to shore. There was no way we were going to make it back to the boat launch so we headed for the nearest landmark we could find – Kenmore Air.
As we progressed, the engine was struggling and we didn’t know how long it would keep running. Every few feet of progress just brought on more water in the boat. You could literally see the water inching up.
By the grace of God, the Universe, Whomever, luckily, the engine never did die on us. But by the time we pulled up, the back third of the boat was filled with water. You couldn’t see the back seats. At first, the staff at Kenmore Air ran out to tell us we couldn’t tie off there but as soon as they noticed we were in distress, they quickly helped us get everyone out. At that point, my husband remembered that we have a bilge pump (for this very situation….it’s funny what you forget when you are in a panic)! So tied off to a dock with the engine off, the pump got to work! We were also pretty lucky that our truck was very close by so we were able to get the boat out of the water fairly quickly and before it officially sank (thanks Kenmore Air)!
Once home, we were able to completely dry the boat with no harm done and the boat mechanic found the problem for us. We (stupidly) did not properly weatherize the boat the winter before and the freeze plugs blew. As we were driving our boat, the engine was essentially pumping water into the belly of the boat…thus filling it up with water.
It was a quick and easy fix but the entire experience kind of ruined boating for us. The whole thought of not having control on the water with my child (now children) scares us.
We didn’t use the boat for the rest of the summer and we sold it to someone else shortly thereafter.
We are no longer a boating family but we did swap the boat for a camping trailer! And we are sticklers about spring/fall maintenance (learned our lesson on that one)! So instead of the water, we spend a good portion of our summer exploring the amazing campgrounds of the PNW.
If you’ve made it this far I hope to see you around for more summer stories! I’ll be sharing some of our camping adventures this summer along with various campground reviews and pictures!