Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Boat Load of Boats

Last weeks post discussing my 2 boat purchases from Charlie gave me thought about all the vessels I have owned in my lifetime. The various boats I have owned each have a story behind them along with fond memories. 1979 was the start my my journey to where I am today. My friend Kevin knew where there was a boat sitting in a field east of Eleva. The strategy was to check out the boat then go negotiate with it's owner Paul Wichmann. $200 later and I was in business. It was a 14 foot aluminum Starcraft, probably no wider than 4 feet. Brother Steve had a new trailer and "let me use it for a few years", so all I needed was a good motor. I was talking to a customer of mine and he had a 1975 15hp Evinrude, like new. Parting with $575 I was in business!

In 1981 I was invited to fish Mille Lacs with some friends of mine. Teaming up with a guy at work who had a bigger boat, we joined them and I was hooked. It was obvious that if my love for the lake was going to sustain, I would need a larger boat. Selling off the boat and motor separately I keep my borrowed trailer and bought a brand spanking new 14 foot Lund S14DLX, the widest boat in it's class along with a new 25hp Evinrude. Unable to afford anything larger I immediately started to remodel it by adding a carpeted casting platform in the front as well as some electronics and an anchormate. This is the boat that I scared the pants off of Big Dave with a midnight cruise in 3 foot waves on Mille Lacs. He still gives me crap! My next boat was the 1985 Lund ProAngler with a 50 hp Merc, Charlies first boat. On a per year basis I estimate that I probably caught more fish out of this boat than all others. It probably had to do with being less fearful then! Next came the 1986 Lund Nisswa Guide with the same motor as my previous one except now they called it a Classic 50 as it's real prop HP was 42. This was a great motor, sort of a gas hog because of it's 4 cylinders, and was getting waxed on the water by the Japanese outboards. While fishing the flats on Mille Lacs with my good friend Mark Taylor the wind had come up and it was time to head in. Pointing the boat south against the 3 footers I could not get on plane. Whipping the boat around with the wind, I got her going and the next day promptly traded the motor for a 55 Suzuki. Great motor!! 1990 was a bad year for the boating industry. Through my wife's work we were able to bid on a slightly used 1989 Ranger 680T on a Rangertrail. This was the premier tiller boat of the day. I mounted my 55 Suzuki on it and was in business. Although it was a beautiful boat, it's hull was more like a bassboat's and frankly pounded the heck out of me on Mille Lacs. So much so that in 1993 I traded it for a new Skeeter 135T with a 75 Mariner tiller. This was a rocking boat, 17'3" long, and handled the waves like a knife through butter. It also took the longest to get used to. The boat was ordered in time to make the fishing opener however a delay at the factory in Texas meant it would miss the next truck north. The dealer charged a $300 delivery fee so I asked my brother Jon if he would pick it up for the same amount. 3 days later I had the boat. A year later I was cruising on Mille Lacs when the motor just killed. Once stopped you could smell how hot it was. Raising the motor revealed a plastic bag had wrapped around the water intake and seized the pistons. Once cooled the motor restarted and I was able to return to the landing. The next day I headed for Frankies, filed an insurance claim and had a new 1994 75hp on the back. To my surprise the 1994 was a model change and the motor was much more powerful, such that I needed a new prop. That boat often hit 40 mph. Although I really liked that boat, the fit and finish was not very good. 2001 came along and Ranger introduced their 620T with a 115 hp 4 stroke Suzuki. My previous experience with my 55 hp was enough to convince me. This boat is 20' and has proven to be everything one would want in a large tiller operated boat. It can do about 37mph yet troll at 1.8mph for total versatility. Great storage, plenty of room, can handle big water, and looks great. Today I am running the exact same boat in a 2008 model.

I did get out on Sunday. Consecutive weekends of fishing does not leave much time to get the chores done around the house, especially when the garden is in full production. Sunday evening I asked my neighbor Lory if he wanted to head to the river for a couple hours of relaxation mixed with a few beers. Fishing off a neighbors dock I rigged Lory with a nightcrawler and I was determined to get a catfish using Sonny's Stink Bait on a catfish worm. I can assure you that it definitely does stink! Back on the river stink bait works great for catfish. Last year I had caught a number of them off the same dock so I know they are there. Well I never got even a hit. In the meantime Lory hooked this carp as well as a golden redhorse sucker (middle picture). I had never seen one of these fish before so it was exciting to research the internet and see exactly what kind of fish it was. As you see in the top picture the river is very peaceful and provides a great way to unwind a hectic weekend.


Anonymous said...

ha the years have came and went but the best part of your stories are the number of friends and memories they have broght you. I am one that spent alot of exiting times on the water with you and have a wonderful friend in you because of those boats, great life time story Dave I think you have found a new life in your stories!!!

take care buddy

NeenahPete said...

I think I counted 9 boats in this story. It appears to me that every one of them was more than justified!

Dave Anderson said...

Thanks Kev.
Pete, you are spot on. Each new boat started with how much safer I would be in "this" boat. Didn't work as well on this last one but never the less it's in my shed!