One last (brief) boat ride for the year. Which was preceded by one last boating adventure for the year.

Saturday we planned on getting the boat out of the water for the year. We actually went down Friday night so we could get an early start and have everything wrapped up before I covered a sectional soccer game in the afternoon.

Bright and early we got up, got the trailer hooked up, the girls in life jackets, and headed down for the quick jaunt over to the marina. Except, when I turned the key, nothing happened. It had been in the back of my mind all week that the battery might be low since we A) hadn’t started it in six weeks and B) it’s been rather chilly for several weeks. Now, did I borrow, or even buy, a battery charger to protect against these thoughts? No, I did not. And I had even borrowed an air compressor to fill the tires on the trailer, so I had the chance to grab a charger as well.

Only one lake neighbor was home, and he did have a charger that he warned did not work very well. I gave it a shot, but after half an hour there still wasn’t enough charge to turn the engine over. Time was running short so we abandoned the task for the day.

Sunday we borrowed a better charger and I went and bought a new battery, just in case ours was completely dead. Then yesterday, after the kids got dropped at St. P’s, we hustled back down to try to get everything done. It was pouring for our entire 75 minute drive. I was not looking forward to standing out in the rain while attempting to charge, and potentially change, a battery and then drive a boat through it. But just as we arrived, the rain stopped and it slowly began to clear.

I hooked the charger up and let it run while we again hooked up the trailer and got everything ready to go. After half an hour, I turned the key, and the engine at least tried to start. A pause, another twist of the key, and the engine sputtered to life. Whew!

By now the sun was out, it was in the mid–70s, and it was a thoroughly glorious day. As I slowly navigated our cove toward the main channel, it became an absolutely perfect day to be on the lake. And I was the only boat out there. I really should have taken a lap around at high speed one last time, but instead I went straight to the marina, pulled up onto the trailer, and our first summer as boaters was officially over.

Next was the really fun part: driving the trailer all the way back to Indy (about 45 minutes) to drop it off at the place where it would be winterized and stored until May. Keep in mind, I’ve never pulled an empty trailer before, let alone one with 3000 pounds of boat on top of it. And the first 20 minutes of the drive are through winding, narrow, country roads with lots of hills, blind turns, and crazy locals who drive much faster than the speed limit while straddling the center line. There’s not much room for error.

Fortunately, since it was a Monday, there was hardly any traffic. I kept it out of the ditch and away from on-coming traffic. I gave myself plenty of space to slow down once we hit the busier highway back to the city. And we made it to the boat center without incident.

We learned a lot in our first five months as boat owners. And I’m sure we still have a lot more to learn. We know not to trust the gas gauge. How to get it in and out of the water. By the end of the summer I had figured out how to drive the boat pretty well, if I may brag a bit. Each of our last two big weekends with friends we had guests who have boats of their own, and daredevil boys who are used to acting crazy behind them. Both times I whipped those kids around enough on the tube that they were screaming with joy and shouting how awesome the ride was when their turns were over. I think I came a long way from the first half of the summer when I just went straight and fast.

We hope those of you who visited this summer will come again, and those of you who didn’t make it accept our invitation to share a weekend with us next summer.