The best summer boat is the one given away

Heidi Fedore is one of six reader columnist for The News Tribune.
Heidi Fedore is one of six reader columnist for The News Tribune. dmontesino@thenewstribune.com

The pedal boat was not my first boat.

When my siblings and I were young, we owned an inflatable dinghy. Standing on a riverbank, half of our outings were spent trying to inflate the thing. We stomped on the accordion pump like we were in a bluegrass band.

In spite of the sweat and delayed gratification, once we got into that dinghy, it was pure boating bliss.

Sentimentally, three summers ago, I bought a pedal boat online. From the moment I clicked on “Submit Order,” my sister and I were plagued with mishaps.

A two-week delivery delay and retail errors tainted my nostalgia from the start. On the hottest day of the decade, the pedal boat finally arrived scraped and smudged with the plastic covering shriveled from the heat.

In spite of this, the boat appeared to be sea worthy, or rather lake worthy. I decided to keep the blemished boat. July 4 was two days away.

Transferring the 115-pound boat from our driveway to the lake required four people to hobble it like sumo wrestlers.

Once the boat was positioned at our four-foot lake easement, hauling it in and out of the water was backbreaking. Our gracious neighbor allowed us to prop it on his pristine boathouse, but each time it was like wrestling a massive alligator.

Not wanting to overextend our neighbor’s welcome, last summer we decided to moor the boat at a buoy six feet from shore.

For the first time, I visited a marine supply shop. I purchased an anchor, chain, nylon rope and buoys. I hauled the equipment down the winding path, to the easement.

Immersed in water up to my chest, after much tossing and yanking, I could not get the anchor to take hold at the bottom of the lake. I persuaded my sister to help me and, like members of a mafia, we tied a massive, concrete boulder to the anchor. Then we crab walked our way down the winding path, to the shore, and into the lake.

On the count of three, we hurled (or plopped) the boulder/anchor into the lake to secure a mooring. Then we tied the boat to the buoy.

And then the torrential rains came and filled the foot wells, which periodically required bailing to keep the boat from sinking into oblivion.

To speed the bailing process, I bought a hand pump at the marine supply store. To avoid rainwater entering the foot wells, I bought a cover at a sporting goods store.

And then the winds came and blew the cover askance. So, I visited a hardware store for a thin nylon rope and weights for the rope, so that I could craft a net to hold the cover in place.

This lasted until the 4th of July when the cover, rope and weights slipped to the lake floor, into oblivion.

Vowing that I would not repeat this experience again this summer, I told my sister I had planned to advertise a free boat in mid-April. (On my conscience, I couldn’t charge anyone to experience what I had.)

“Do you regret buying the boat?” my sister asked.

“Not at all,” I replied. “The cost was no different than taking a vacation. Owning this boat will be a memory just like vacations.”

Knowing that I didn’t want to own a boat, which replaced the yearning to buy one, was a lesson worth every penny.

In early April, I was outside gardening when a man dropped by to ask about the neglected pedal boat and offered to buy it. While kayaking, he had seen it submerged in the water like a hippopotamus.

“It’s yours for free!” I said.

I helped scoop out the rainwater from the foot wells for the last time and then, in one of the happiest moments of my life, I watched from shore as the pedal boat was pulled to another destination.

Heidi Fedore of Lakewood is a middle school principal in Gig Harbor. She is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Reach her by email at hfedore@hotmail.com.