I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve gone through a number of changes during the past year or so — a separation, a divorce, a move and a new job. I live in St. Augustine now.
After years of fishing on foot and out of a kayak/canoe, I finally have a boat — a 13-foot Riverhawk. This little skiff will fish two and runs on a 5HP Tohatsu. At first, I was elated about the concept of going farther and skinnier.
Then the learning curve set in.
With boats and new owners, the learning curve is super steep. First, I had to get a hitch on my jeep. That took several trips to the mechanic and the dealership. Memo to all Jeep owners: If you get a non-Jeep hitch installed, you need to get the electronics calibrated — at the Jeep dealership, which means more money for the local Jeep dealer. Then there was the adapter for the hitch, to ensure a proper hookup with the trailer’s wiring. Needless to say, neither of these two nuggets of info are in the manual.
As long as we’re on wiring, I had to get the tail lights to fixed. Neither worked. Fortunately a fairly handy friend helped me with this. Still, this took several weeks of trial and error, mostly error.
So, the boat was ready to go. But there was one problem. I didn’t know how to trailer the damn thing. My first couple attempts at backing up were absolutely brutal. It was a like a kid learning how to parallel park when he can barely turn the ignition key.
It took a half dozen or so lessons, but eventually I got better. The key moment came when I took a solo trip to the local police station to practice backing up and parking. I thought I had it all figured out because I had been earlier in the summer and the place was vacant. I went in early November and the parking lot was packed on a weekday and weekend due to early election voting.
I turned down a side street to find relief, but that option reached an abrupt dead end when I realized there was no place to turn around. With a car, turning around is no biggie. With a trailer, even a small one, it’s a big, big deal. You better plan it out. Stop at a gas station? You better stop at a place with enough room. But I digress…. I was forced to back down a long stretch of pavement and back the trailer in to a yard to right myself and get back home. I did it twice, on separate trips.
But I was not done with obstacles. I live on the beach, which means I have a great view of the ocean, but a lousy dirt driveway. It’s not just any dirt driveway. It’s a soft, sandy dirt driveway, courtesy of the dunes. Hell, I live in the dunes.
After backing down the long straightaway near the police station, I was feeling confident when I returned home. That optimism was short lived, however, when I tried to back up over soft sand and got stuck — twice. This was not the first time. It’s been a ongoing problem all summer. Backing up my driveway is an invitation to call your local Triple AAA.
I figured I had the problem licked with two loads of gravel and rock. That helped, but under that layer of stone is soft ground. The rock buys time, but not much. I can power the Jeep up the narrow curves that lead to my cottage, but going slow ensures bogging down. But go too fast and you can’t get the trailer where you want. My driveway, shall we say, is tight. I’m learning — the hard way. Below is a pic of the boat — before I made a few fixes.