Not Our Usual Boat Trip

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Going through some old files recently, I opened one slugged “ants” and dated exactly one year before today. Talk about your déjà vu….

Ants. Ants everywhere. Teeny, tiny little ants that don’t bite, but nonetheless ants.

We first noticed them on the galley sink and the stove, down in one of the food bins, across the top edge of the fridge. (Galley? Bin? You’re right; we’re on the boat.)

There were ants in the galley and ants in the shelves holding dishes. Picked up most of them with a damp paper towel as I put canned goods away. That’s when I discovered that we had murdered only a fraction of the current ant population. The rest were holed up in the refrigerator. Dave got out the ant-and-roach killer and got rid of them but lost his smile when I informed him we’d have to wipe all the surfaces food will be on.

If you saved the November 6, 2008 Citizen you’ll recognize why the above paragraphs sound familiar. Same words, mostly in the same order. Same time of year, same agenda: to enjoy the coloring trees while the weather is pretty, the sky so blue.

But the first two days here at the marina of Lake Point Resort State Park in Alabama were very cold and windy, both years. Dave was not quite ready to take the boat away from the dock so we decided to stay for two nights using shore power to run a space heater. And I decided to write this column.

Opened the computer, and guess what? Ants peep out from between the keys. Smooshing an ant on a computer key often brings strange messages from The Land of the Ants.

Enough of ’08. The biggest difference between ’08 and ’09 was that last year we had just elected a new president.

On the first evening of this year’s trip Dave tried (as usual) to start the engine to make sure everything is in good shape.

He turned the key and … nothing.

And again.


The first time in the 19 years we’ve owned Alice III, her good and heretofore faithful Honda did not purr to life under Dave’s caressing touch. He was so stunned he could hardly decide where to start looking for the problem.

Batteries. Must be one of the batteries. They are monstrous, actually golf cart batteries for the fridge and cabin lights, housed in the most unreachable bowels of the boat, under Dave’s bunk and behind the canned goods bin. He’d ask me to find his under-handed hexa-ratchet winky dink, vs. 9, and lost patience when I couldn’t find it instantly.

All of the above, of course, to a non-electrical engineer, is gibberish. Lots of electrical terms, lots of flashlight searches for tiny brass screws, most of Dave’s remarkably diverse vocabulary. After what seemed like ages, he pronounced the circuit fit, maybe, and threw on whatever switch was the culprit last time.

No go. One whole side of the boat had no power or produced curious symptoms, like a loud popping, a series of lights going out as the power hit them. We were plugged into shore power, so presumably had safe, unlimited power through those circuits, but by now even I’m getting spooked.

Really weird things happened, like the stereo system going half bad. The lights were all lighting it up like a tiny Christmas tree – but there’s no sound. None. Nada. And the World Series is about to begin.

Never had good TV reception down there, and now we have none at all because we had never bothered to get the digital box thingy.

The bright little reading lights over our bunks: Dave’s works just fine; mine has the red pilot-light, meaning there is power to it, but when I turn on the light, nothing doing. The third of those lamps, forward portside over my laptop desk, burns brightly. Too brightly, maybe?

On the second or third day of this, Dave says let’s go to the lodge for dinner. Most of our meals, breakfast and dinner, were out. Dave purely loves to eat out and I think his motive was genuine: It would give us a much needed break.

We walked to the lodge, about a mile away, enjoyed a good early dinner in the dining room there, then sauntered back to the boat, entirely oblivious to the fact that we had just squandered the last of our daylight. I could see well enough to type, but Dave was too discouraged to even try to work anymore, not to mention listening to the ball game. The series was long over before we heard who won.

So instead of couple of days on the lake, as planned, we spent five days at the dock and only one afternoon out on the water. The boat’s batteries were finally resuscitated, one of them replaced. Something is still not right, but we did get a bit of a break from the routine.

Meanwhile, to quote the end of the 2008 column, “The ants go marching, one by one. Hurrah! Hurrah!...”

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Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 11/11/2009 - 2:11pm.

When are you going to give up on that boat? It seems like eternal torment!

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