As the Boat Floats: Surviving a Flood

Characters: Marilyn, houseboat owner and blogger; Randy and Jim, houseboat co-owners; Jerry, hippie; Jared, serial lover and owner of Dream Weaver; Scott, Jerry’s nephew; Marie,12-year-old daughter, and Isabelle, 10-year-old daughter of Laverne and Raymond;Ellen and Stanley, cruiser neighbors; Austin, owner of the VIP Marina (as well as Sandy Creek Marina); Simon, marina manager.    

“I’m sorry we left you behind, Marilyn. We were anxious to get started on our fishing trip,” Randy, the Fishing Squad ring-leader, bends the truth to placate me and free himself from responsibility.

“You left because the Fishing Squad did not want women, children, and dogs to go with you,” I claim.

“Do you blame us?” Jim asks.

“Yes, I do. And whether you want to admit it or not, your houseboat punished you by running out of fuel,” I suggest.

“Don’t try to make us feel guilty. We wanted to fish, that’s all. You’re making it too complicated,” Jerry advises.

“We’re one big happy family, now, together on my cruiser. Let’s make the best of it. Scott’s on the bow fishing. Feel free to fish, if you like,” Jared suggests.

“I’m out of the mood,” George claims. “Let’s play poker or black jack.” Randy, Jim, and Jerry join him at the galley table.

“Can I use your rod, George?” Marie asks.

“Of course. Catch us lunch. I’ll cook all the fish you bring us,” George promises, shuffling the cards.

“Dad, look at the geese on the grassy part of the beach.There’s only one white bird in the group of black-and-whites,” Isabelle points out.

“And listen to the racket they’re making. What’s up?” Jerry asks, getting up from the card game and standing next to Isabelle.

“You know geese mate for life. Maybe he is looking for another partner among the Canadas,” Raymond suggests.

“What kind is the white one?” Isabelle asks.

“It’s a snow goose, probably lost,” Scott comments as he enters the galley with Marie.

“I bet it’s a domestic goose,” Jim volunteers.

“Look at the Canadian flock following the snow goose. He’s a leader. I bet bad weather separated him from his flock. Speaking of bad weather, the lake level is rising fast. The lines are tight,” Scott advises.

“Do you think the geese are warning us?” Isabelle asks.

“I think they’re honking before they take off. I bet you’re right, Isabelle,” Scott guesses, while Isabelle smiles, taking the comment as a compliment.

“Warning us of what?” Randy questions.

Appearing in the doorway, Austin announces, “We just received a flash flood warning from the Lower Colorado River Authority. Heavy rain flooded Llano River. The powerful current destroyed the bridge near Kingsland. The Highland Lakes are filled to capacity, forcing the Corps of Engineers to open the flood gates to protect the construction of the dams. Lake Travis, being downstream from four of the seven Highland Lakes, is on the verge of rising very quickly from the waters being released from the other reservoirs. Lake Travis will be shut down very soon. Please return to your marina now. The rapid rise of water may block your reaching shore.”

“What is the status of fuel for our houseboat?” Jim inquires.

“Not full yet, but close enough. There’s no time to lose, according to people who know,” Austin cautions as he turns to alerts others on the pier.   

“They’re making a big deal out of nothing,” George exclaims. “It hasn’t rained here for days. What’s the rush?”

“Take a look at the lines,” Scott suggests, “And tell me why this calm lake now has a raging current.”

Everyone races to the door. The ones in back bump into those in front, suddenly immovable. “Oh, no!” Laverne and Ellen shout together. “Will we be able to get back?  How will you dock the boat against these waves?” Laverne asks.

“Not to worry. Dream Weaver will get us through,” Jared promises.

Pushing and shoving, the Fishing Squad squeezes past the Cruiser Crew and heads to their houseboat. “We’ll meet you back at the quay,” Jared shouts as he climbs the teak stairs to the flybridge.

The lake is unrecognizable–it’s throwing a tantrum. The yacht shimmies and bounces over waves, against the wind. For warmth, we wrap beach towels around our shoulders. Even though there’s no rain, we’re drenched by water air-borne by gusts.

Austin has forewarned Simon to assist the captains with docking their boats. Simon, holding onto an aluminum pole for support on the rocking pier, shakes his head, doubting his influence in a situation that has been taken over by Nature. The crafts approach clumsily. Will the pilots be able to maneuver their boats into their slips? Through a megaphone, Simon instructs Jim to park his houseboat at the end of the harbor, which requires less finesse than squeezing a 100-foot long houseboat into a 20-foot wide slip. As members of the Fishing Squad disembark to secure the lines, Simon hurries to Dream Weaver’s slip.  

Jared turns Dream Weaver’s bow away from the dock. He positions the stern to back into the slip. The bow and stern thrusters maintain the ship’s backward direction, overpowering the wind and the current. Raymond and Stanley, cruiser owners, know exactly what to do. They jump onto the dock, attach the lines to secure the craft, and tie bumpers to protect the finish. As a group effort, the mooring appears easy with Simon as an observer rather than a problem solver. He’s grateful for the show of collaboration in the midst of a squall.

As Jared turns off the engines and ignites the electric heaters, he offers everyone food and drinks. “A job well done,” I compliment him.

He smiles, “Thanks to Dream Weaver, not me.”  

I know better. I look at Prana, the next slip over. If I were behind the wheel of Prana, where would we have ended up? I better take more piloting lessons. Will I ever achieve piloting status? Time and experience will tell.

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