I was introduced to Christeen on a warm summer day in June of 1994. My friend, Ron was telling me about her one-day at work. I told him I would be interested in meeting her, so he invited me over that Saturday.
Come by the house about 1:00 and I will have her waiting for you. Shell be sitting next to the garage so you cant miss her when you come around the corner.
I was excited all week waiting for Saturday to arrive. I could barely sleep the night before. From the way Ron described her to me, she was everything I had been looking for. Lean, sleek, baby blue, and she could run like the wind.
It was a short drive to Rons house at Summer Lake. The traffic was light, so I made great time. I turned the corner onto his street and strained to get my first look at Christeen. Then I saw her sitting next to the garage just as Ron had told me, and she was beautiful!
I parked the truck in front of his house and bounded out. I approached her slowly, taking in every curve of her body. She was all of 19, a little older than I had wanted, but she looked to be in good shape for her age. Ron came out of the house and stood by silently watching me as I ran my hand along her body.
Well, was I right? Ron asked. Isnt she great?
Yea, but I cant believe you want to get rid of her!
I dont have time to do any boating. Hell, I dont even have enough time to get things done around here.
The why did you buy her? I asked. After my adventure with the tent trailer, I was leery. After all, why have a boat if you never put it in the water?
I got her in trade for an old car that I sold. He needed a car and didnt have the cash, so I took the boat in trade.
I nodded my head, buying the story and dropping my guard. I turned my attention back to Christeen. I looked inside and you could tell she had lived a rough life. Her seats were worn down to the foam, and her trim was hanging down. She had not been in the water for almost 6 years based on the registration sticker on her hull.
We walked around to the back of the boat and I noticed she had a monster motor hanging from her stern.
75 horse power Evenrude, Ron said patting the cowling like you would pat your dog. That should give her quite a kick out on the water.
I spent a few more minutes looking her over, trying to find something that would give me a hint that something was wrong. I didnt want to make the same mistake twice, but everything looked to be in order. Sure, she needed a little cosmetic work, but for $500.00 she would be paid for, and would make a good weekend project boat.
I paid Ron the money and backed the truck up and lowered her onto the hitch. Her tongue slid down over the ball and we locked her into place. This was already better than my other experience had been, so I was feeling pretty good about this deal.
The trip home was uneventful. Christeen seemed to enjoy being back on the road again, and going to her new home.
I pulled up in front of the house and went inside to get Nadine so she could get her first look at Christeen. She came out, looked her over and gave her nod of approval.
Stand back here and help me back her into the driveway but this time, stand where I can see you!
I backed her into the driveway with the skill of truck driver. Everything went smooth as silk, until I went to unhook her from the hitch.
I looked at the trailer tongue and noticed there was no jack! I stood there scratching my head wondering how Ron had managed to lower her onto the hitch when I left. Damn, he must have had a jack that he used, I thought standing there looking stupid again.
Nadine just looked at me, and I knew what was going through her head. Another money pit!
Dont worry, I announced. Ill just get the jack out of the truck and raise her that way.
I walked to the truck and retrieved the jack from behind the seat. I placed it under the tongue and started to crank it up. I unlocked the hitch and cranked it as high as it would go, but the tongue never came off the ball. Damn! I needed to put some blocks under the jack to get more height.
I found some wood next to the garage and placed them under the jack, and started cranking it up again. This time, the tongue lifted off the ball with ease. I stood back, triumphantly looking at my accomplishment, when I heard Nadine yell, look out! I turned around in time to see the trailer starting to move forward. I forgot to block the tires!
I watched in horror as the jack started to tilt forward and collapsed, as the tongue of the trailer slammed into the bumper of the truck with the most awful scrapping noise I had ever heard. It pushed the truck forward and then landed on the concrete with a thud, sliding forward, until the winch had embedded itself into the tailgate of the truck.
I took some of the wood, and put it under the tires of the trailer so I could move the truck out of the way. It was obvious that I had a lot to learn about boating!
A neighbor stopped by and we lifted the tongue by hand and placed it on a cement block and made sure it was stable. He looked her over and mumbled something about who had paid me to take this $#%$ off their hands. I didnt pay any attention to him because he didnt own a boat so what did he know.
My neighbor left and I set about looking her over and taking note of what needed to be done to her before we could take her out on the water for the first time.
We decided to not spend the money to recover the seats until we knew this was something we really wanted to do, so we covered them with a couple of old sheets, and that worked out just fine.
I had been told that you need to make sure the hull is waxed so it will slip through the water which will also save you on gas, so I went to the boat shop to get the wax and register the boat.
The man at the counter told me that it would cost me $75.00 to register Christeen because she had not be registered in over 6 years.
Do you have everything you need before you take her out? he asked.
He opened a drawer and handed me a list of items that were required by the Coast Guard before you can go boating. I looked at the list and visions of the tent trailer and camping danced in my head.
Lets get her registered, Ill take this list home, see whats missing and then Ill be back.
I drove home and took the list into the house so I could calculate what this was going to cost me.
Life jackets, flare kit, fire extinguishers, two way radio. Then there were the recommended extras. Spare fuel, extra deep cycle battery, the list went on and on. This was starting to sound a lot like camping.
Honey, I shouted to Nadine, did your dad ever own a boat?
Nope, he never owned a boat. Why?
Just wondering, I told her, thinking to myself that the camping curse wouldnt carry over to boating.
Come on, we need to go to Target and get some things for the boat so we can take it out next weekend.
We went to the store and purchased the life jackets, first extinguishers, spare fuel tank, spare battery and a first aid kit, just in case. I spent the rest of the weekend running the wiring that was needed to the spare battery to run the lights, so I had power for the two-way radio that I had picked up at a garage sale last year. I washed and waxed Christeen, and I even polished the windshield so it was clearer than it had been before.
Nadine pitched in and made covers for the seats and then we checked out the wiring job I had done. The bow lights worked and the stern light shown like a beacon. Everything was in place for our first boating trip the next weekend.
The weather report was for clear skies and 75 degrees, a perfect day for boating.
Nadine fixed us some sandwiches and packed the cooler. I backed up the truck and lifted the tongue and kicked the block from under it and lowered Christeen onto the ball. Everything was going as planned. I locked her into place and attached the safety chains and we were ready to go.
We pulled out and headed for the gas station to fill the tanks with gas. I had already put in the proper amount of oil, so everything was ready.
I was slightly surprised when it cost me close to $30.00 to fill the tanks, but that was fine because we were going boating. We drove to Suave Island where we would launch the boat in the channel that led to the Willamette River. We would follow this river all the way into downtown Portland, Oregon. We had watched boats on the river from the shore and noticed that it didnt matter if you had an old boat or a new boat, they were on the river having fun, and we were on the shore wishing we were with them.
I pulled into the parking lot at the boat launch. I couldnt reach the bowline, so I climbed over the stern to get inside Christeen and tossed the line onto the bow so I could hand it to Nadine once she was in the water so we could maneuver her to the dock.
I decided to just hop over the side of Christeen to get out, so I placed one hand on the side rail and took a leap. The next thing I remember was laying face down in the gravel in the parking lot, pain shooting though my body. I had forgotten that I waxed her the week before, and she was very slippery.
Nadine came running over to see if I was hurt. I sat up and blood ran into my eye from the gash in my head. My glasses were broken, and pain was shooting from my right hand that had taken the brunt of the impact when I hit the ground.
Patch me up, I told Nadine. Were going boating!
The only place were going is to the hospital to get some stitches in your head, and x-rays of your hand.
I couldnt argue with her, it hurt too much.
We got back into the truck, and I knew we had another problem. This truck was a stick, and my right hand was useless and blood was running down my face. We were 10 miles from the nearest hospital, so this was going to be a challenge not to mention we had to go over a large hill with a lot of turns.
Nadine held a bandage to my head, and she would do the shifting. I had managed to get my glasses to stay in place with one bow missing so I could see. It took us close to an hour to get to the hospital where they put 10 stitches in my head. My hand was only sprained and I also got my glasses repaired and then told Nadine, Were going boating!
We drove back over to the river and had a successful launching of the boat for the first time. We cruised down the channel at very low speed as there are floating homes on either side of the channel and the speed limit is only 10 miles per hour. As I didnt have a speedometer on this boat, the residents had a way of letting you know if you were going to fast!
We pulled out into the Willamette River for the long anticipated opening of the throttle for the first time. With 75 horses kicking this boat in the butt, I told Nadine to hold on as I shoved the throttle all the way open.
Well, we slowly increased speed, and the boat started to shake. I thought, this isnt much fun as we moved along and what must have been about 15 miles per hour.
Before we reached the first bridge, the motor sputtered and stopped. What the hell! I yelled as I got up and went back to see what was wrong.
The fuel tank was empty! We had used up 6 gallons of gas to go only 4 miles? I changed tanks (I was beginning to understand why they said to take extra fuel) and started the motor. I turned the boat around and headed back for the channel. I didnt want to run out of fuel before we got to the floating gas station in the channel. I pushed the throttle wide open. All of the sudden, the motor popped and snorted out a big black cloud of smoke then took off like a bat out of hell. Yeah, now this was fun!!
We stopped at the floating gas station and filled both tanks. We also picked up an extra 6 gallon gas can and had it filled as a spare, then headed back into the river. We figured we would go as far as one tank of gas would take us, then head back. We were able to make it all the way into downtown Portland before we had to change tanks and head back up river to the channel. Even with all of the problems in the beginning, it had turned out to be a great day on the river as we watch the people on the bank waving to us wishing they had a boat.
We got back to the launch and loaded Christeen back onto the trailer, and headed for home. Bumped, bruised and battered, we still had a great day on the water, and we couldn’t wait until next weekend to go out again. Little did we know that Christeen was thinking up other devious ways to hurt me.