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Bobby Jo had really missed going down to the Bay and all summer long she had been looking forward to going down Labor Day week. She hadn’t been able to go before because of her new job, but she and Jesse were going to go Labor Day week, all by themselves to party all weekend long and then go fishing during the week. Just being the two of us, I can really kick back and enjoy myself. It has been a long summer, and I really need this to help hold onto my sanity.
Earlier that summer, Jesse had bought an inflatable raft from West Marine. It was an eight-foot long raft, with a plywood floor and a plywood transom; it was rated for a seven and half horsepower outboard. It could carry two to three people.
He was also able to find a very nice older outboard from a local marina, which had just rebuilt it. It ran like a new one. You could start it with just one pull, and you could slow it down to where it just barely putted. Jesse loved that old motor more than the raft; he wouldn’t trade it for a new one, even if he could.
They had been playing around with the raft and motor at Ford Lake most of the summer and had gotten to where they could handle it very well. Jesse hadn’t taken the raft down to the Bay yet. He had been waiting for Bobby Jo to be there. She would use the raft more than anyone else. It would have been in the way on a serious fishing trip. It was too big to store on the boat inflated, and you would have had to deflate it and put it away every time when you went out fishing.
Bobby Jo wasn’t able to get off work until three p.m. Friday, so they were a little later getting to the Bay than normal. They weren’t early enough to be able to get a dock space; they had to tie up to the shore by the main dock. It was a spot that they had used a lot over the years. By now it seemed like home to them. It was a nice spot as long as it didn’t storm on them. The weekend weather was supposed to be sunny and hot.
As they were tying the boat up, a dock master came over and said, “Hi, can I give you a hand tying your boat up.”
“No, I have my own way of tying it up, but thank you anyway.”
“You planning on staying just the night or the whole weekend?” he asked.
“We’re going to stay at least the weekend, maybe the whole week, but I don’t know for sure about that yet.”
“Well the dockage fee is $.50 per foot of length for each night. What size is this boat, a twenty-six footer?”
“No, it’s a twenty-four footer,” Jesse said. “I’m only going to pay for the three-day weekend at this time. I’ll wait and decide about the rest of the week later.”
“Okay then, your boat is a twenty-four footer, that will be twelve dollars a night, times three, for a total of thirty-six dollars. You’ll need to fill out this dock permit with your information and sign it. You must then post it in your windshield where it’s noticeable. Thank you,” the dock master said.
Jesse filled out the paper work and paid him. The dock master put the money away and then turned and walked down towards the other docks, looking for another victim.
After he was out of earshot, Jesse said, “Man, I didn’t even have the boat tied up before the buzzard swooped down to pick our bones. When we first started coming down here, they only charged ten cents per foot, and then only if you were tied to a dock. They never used to charge for tying up to the shore.”
“Do you remember when Perry Patrick was the dock master?” Bobby Jo said. “He used to write up the dock permit for the whole week, but only charge us for one night… Maybe that’s why he’s not a dock master anymore?”
“That’s possible, but I think he just got fed up with all the bullshit and quit,” Jesse said. “I heard that he was singing in some bars over around Cleveland on the weekends. Sort of like his dad, Danny, does here. I was talking to him when I was here in June, and he told me that he was working on a deal to sing here at the Boat House, next summer.”
“Well, if he does sing here next year, we’ll have to come and listen to him. I hope that I get to see him this weekend, I just love that boy to pieces.”
“I’ve noticed that you’re rather fond of him. Should I be worried?”
“No, he is a little young for me, I like my men older,” she said. “Those young ones are always in a hurry. You know, wham, bam, thank you maam. I like it nice and slow; there is no reason to hurry it. The journey getting there is as much fun as the destination.”
“I was thinking that we would go to get something to eat first, and then come back to the boat and get the inflatable raft out,” Jesse said. “Once we got it inflated and all set up, we could try it out here for a while.”
“Yeah, I’m hungry, I want to eat first before you start playing with that raft. Knowing you, you’ll be all night playing around trying to get everything working on it.” So they went up to the Chicken Pit to eat.
Jesse had inflated the raft a couple of times at home, and so he had some idea of what he needed to do. Everything went smoothly and in about twenty minutes he had the raft ready to put the motor on. Putting the motor on with the raft in the water was a little tricky, but he finally got it on without dropping the motor into the water.
He got the gas tank pumped up and now he was ready to try to start the motor. He had run the motor at home just before he brought it down, so it started on the first pull. He let the motor run awhile to warm up before trying to go cruising in the raft.
“Hey kid, you want to go cruising around the harbor on our maiden voyage with me?” Jesse said.
“You did put the oars in the raft in case the motor quits, right?” Bobbi Jo said. “Okay then, let me get a couple beers and I’ll be ready to shove off.”
“Man, that motor is running so smooth, I’ll bet a new one won’t run any smoother,” he said as he slowed the motor down. “See, I can slow it down, to where it is just barely putting, and it still moves the raft very nicely.”
They went around the harbor twice, and then they went back to the boat. While Jesse was tying the raft to the swim platform for the night, a guy asked, “What year is that motor?”
“It’s a 1957 Johnson, seven and half horsepower outboard,” Jesse said.
“I knew it was old, but I didn’t think it was that old. It sure runs nice, and it still looks real good too. I love the way it runs real slow, just barely putting.”
“Well, thank you.”
After talking to the man, they changed their clothes and went up to the Beer Barrel to listen to Danny sing. They stayed a couple hours and then went back to the boat. They sat there and watched all of the drunks wandering around the streets for a while and then they went to bed.
It sure felt good to relax now that all the stress of getting here and getting everything set up was over and done. They could take it easy the rest of the weekend and not worry about leaving to go fishing until Tuesday. They liked to go fishing, but not on the weekends, because of not being able to get a dock when they came back in. On a holiday weekend, sometimes they couldn’t even get to tie up to the shore. Getting a dock wasn’t a problem when they went fishing during the week.
Saturday morning while they were sitting on the boat, watching the people on the street, Jesse said, “Slick asked me if his son could stay on the boat a couple of nights, he was thinking about coming over on the “Jet Express.” He was planning on going back Monday. I told him that it would be all right with me. You don’t care, do you?”
“No, I don’t mind, but it would have been nice if you had ask me earlier. When was he supposed to get here?”
“If he makes it, he is supposed to be coming over on the noon “Jet Express”.”
“Should I clean out the aft cabin then?”
“I think he’ll want to sleep on the back couch, but he might want to store his stuff in the aft cabin.”
“I’ll clean it out just to be on the safe side.”
“That sounds good to me.”
They were sitting there, after getting it cleaned out, when Perry came walking down the street. Seeing the boat, he came over and climbed onboard.
“How are my two favorite people doing today?” Perry said.
“Well, Bobby Jo is doing just fine and Merri Jo isn’t here, so I don’t know how she is doing,” Jesse said.
“Merri Jo is one of my favorites, but I was talking about you, you smart ass. Are you here for the weekend or the whole shooting match?”
“We’re here for the week,” Bobby Jo said. “You’re sure looking good, honey, you’re a sight for sore eyes. Come over here and give me a big hug.” After hugging him she said, “How long are you going to be around?”
“I’ve got the day off, but I have to be back tomorrow afternoon,” Perry said. “I’ve got a gig at Clancy’s Bar in Cleveland, tomorrow and Monday night.”
“You know Slick’s boy, Scott, don’t you?” Jesse said.
“Yea, we’re good friends, is he still playing music in the bars up there?”
“As far as I know, he’s still doing it some,” Jesse said. “He’s coming over on the noon “Jet Express.” I didn’t know if you would want to talk to him or not.”
“I sure would like to talk to him, compare notes and song lists and see how it is going for him.”
“Well, stop back by sometime this afternoon, he should be here some where.”
“Hey Bobby Jo, you got a cold pop in that cooler that I can have?” Perry said.
“Just like when you were the dock master, there is always a cold one for you honey, anytime,” Bobbi Jo said.
“I wasn’t sure if you still loved me or not… Well thanks; I’ll be seeing you later. Thanks again.”
“Any time, honey.”
After Perry walked away, Jesse said, “Speaking of Merri Jo, did that guy she met up here Memorial Day ever call her, or did she ever call him?”
“He hadn’t called as of Friday of that week and so she tried to call him, but the number she had written down for him was a wrong number. She went to directory assistance, and they had no listing for a Greg VanMeter in Sandusky or Toledo,” Bobbi Jo said. “She doesn’t know if he gave her the wrong number, or if she wrote it down wrong. But in any case he hasn’t called her yet.”
“Maybe that was why he left so fast that day before she got back from the showers. He had got a real good sample of what she could be like and he didn’t want anything more to do with her.”
“You could be right, she can sure be a bitch and a half, when she wants to be. It looks like we’ll never know for sure.”
They watched the noon “Jet Express” ease into the dock, and pretty soon there was Scott walking towards them with his bag and guitar. After shaking Jesse’s hand and giving Bobby Jo a hug, Scott said, “I sure didn’t have any trouble finding you guys. This is the same spot you were in, the last time I was here. Is it going to be all right for me to crash on your boat here for a couple of nights?”
“That will be fine. Perry was here a little while ago and said he would like to get together with you later. Something about swapping tales and song lists,” Jesse said.
“Yeah, I would like to talk with him too. Maybe we can work on some song arrangements and I can find out what’s working best for him.”
“Well, just make yourself at home,” Bobby Jo said. “You can put your stuff in the aft cabin. You can sleep there or out here on the rear couch, which ever one you want.”
“I’ll probably sleep out here on the couch, I like the open spaces. The aft cabin is nothing but a cubbyhole. There isn’t even enough head room to sit up in the bed.”
“It’s kind of close, but it depends on who is in there with you, as to whether it is too close,” she said. “You know what I mean, jelly bean?”
“Well, by myself, I feel like it is too close for me.”
“Well, suit yourself.”
Later that evening, Perry came back by, before they had gone to eat. He said, “I’ve got to run out to dad’s place before he comes in to do his show tonight. Scott, did you bring your guitar with you?”
“Yeah, I brought it with me,” Scott said. “If you have yours, maybe we could jam a little later tonight.”
“That was kind of what I was thinking myself, if you’re willing. I’ll be back around eight and I’ll bring my guitar with me.”
“Okay, I’ll see you then. I’m going to take Bobby Jo and Jesse uptown and get something to eat. We’ll be back before then.”
“Sounds like a plan, my man. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll see you at eight, and I can hardly wait.”
“Jesse, are you and Bobby Jo about ready to go get something to eat?” Scott said. “I’m buying; it’s just my way of saying thank you for letting me stay on your boat this weekend.”
“You don’t have to do that, but if you really want to, who am I to stand in the way of your happiness,” Jesse said. “Come on honey, the kid is buying us supper.”
“Too bad that Perry isn’t going with us also, I could get real excited over that,” Bobby Jo said.
“I know that you’re a little disappointed, but you’ll just have to make due with Scott and me.”
“I’ll try to make the most of the situation.”
It was about seven-thirty when they got back from eating. Scott said, “Perry is coming by around eight, and we are going to jam a little while. If you don’t mind, I would like to jam on your couch? If you want to hang around and listen, you’re more than welcome.”
“We don’t mind and I can drink my beer here on the boat easier than going uptown, and besides if Perry is coming by, I know that I’ll be here,” Bobby Jo said.
“That being the case, I guess I better stay here and chaperon the two of you,” Jesse said.
“Oh, you know nothing is going to happen. You don’t have anything to worry about with Perry and me.”
“Yeah, I know that, but if they’re going to be jamming for a while tonight, I would enjoy listening to them too.”
Just before eight, here came Perry walking down the street carrying his guitar. He handed the guitar to Jesse and climbed onboard. He shook Scott and Jesse’s hands and gave Bobby Jo a big bear hug and a kiss.
“Would you like something to drink?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’ll take a beer,” Perry said. “Thank you.”
“How’s your dad doing?”
“Oh, he doing fine. He’s looking forward to the end of this weekend. He’s going to have a couple of months off before he has to be down in Key West. He said he was going to come over to Cleveland next weekend and listen to me at Clancy’s Bar. I’m going to be singing on the weekends, there the rest of the month. If it goes well, they’re going to have me back in November for three weekends.”
“Sounds like you’re starting to make a name for yourself. I would like to come down and catch your show sometime,” Bobby Jo said.
“I would love to have you and Jesse come down and catch my show.”
“Who said anything about Jesse coming down. Well, I guess I could drag him along as my designated driver.”
“Whatever works for you,” Perry said.
Scott and Perry got their guitars out and sat down on the back couch and started tuning them. They were talking about different songs that they sang and liked. It turned out that they both liked a lot of Kenny Rogers’ songs as well as Jim Croce’s songs.
As the sun was going down they sat there and started singing “Ruby.” They sounded as good as anyone that Jesse had ever heard singing it. Next they went into the “Gambler” and then “Lucelle”. By that time there was a small crowd starting to gather on the shore in front of the boat. Most of the people on the boats around them were all listening to the two of them as they were jamming.
They sang “Cat in the cradle”, “Time in a bottle”, among other songs, way past sunset. Finally about eleven, they both agreed that it was time to call it quits for the night. They were tired and had been jamming for close to three hours without stopping. Everyone tried to talk them into continuing but finally the gathering accepted that they were quitting and thanked them for the great show.
“Well guys, that sure was a lot of fun listening to you two sing,” Jesse said. “You both played the guitars fine and you both have very good voices. Anytime you want to jam on my boat again, you’re more than welcome. It was so good that I feel like I should have paid for the right to listen to you.”
“That’s awfully nice of you to say that,” they both said.
The next morning the jam session was the talk of the docks. Everybody wanted to know who they were and when they were going to jam again. All of the attention made Bobby Jo feels important and special because it had happened on their boat. All day long people stopped by to ask questions about the two who were singing.
By mid afternoon it was very hot and Bobby Jo said, “I’m going to go cruising around the harbor in the raft for awhile. I’ve always wanted a raft, and now that we’ve got one, I’m going to enjoy it.”
“You get ready and I’ll get the motor warmed up for you. Do you want to take a couple of beers with you for the long trip?”
“No, I think that by wearing my bikini, that I’ll have no trouble getting a beer or two during the cruise.”
“Man, I would give you a beer just as an excuse to talk to you.”
About an hour later she came putting back to the boat, the outboard was running very smoothly. When she unloaded the raft, she handed Jesse four empty beer cans. Only one was her brand.
“It looks like you had no trouble getting a couple of beers while you were gone.”
“Like I said, no trouble,” she said. “They all loved me and everyone wanted to know who was singing on our boat last night. At least that was the excuse they used to start talking to me. They would offer me a beer right after that. I’ll have to say that there were a lot of girls that wanted to know who was singing also. I had a ball and I’m so glad that we got this raft. It’s so neat and of course having Scott and Perry jamming on our boat last night sure did make it nicer.”
“Well, I’m glad you had so much fun,” Jesse said. “I’ll have to say that you sure did look real good while you were out cruising around in the raft. Did you see Mike’s boat anywhere around the docks? I thought that I saw him going up though the park while you were gone.”
“No, I didn’t see his boat anywhere. He told me the last time that I talked to him that he was thinking about getting a different boat. So maybe he did get another boat and I just didn’t know that it was his boat. Changing the subject, do you know what I would like to do now?”
“I can tell you what I would like to do right now, but I’m sure it isn’t what you want to do. So please tell me.”
“I would like to take the ferry over to Lonz’s Winery and drink some wine and eat some cheese and crackers,” she said.
“That was the next thing on my list of things to do, I’ll run down to the ferry dock and see when we can get tickets to go over.”
“Well, it’ll have to be within the next two hours or it’s going to be too late for me to go.”
Jesse went on down to the ferry dock and returned shortly. “I went ahead and got us tickets on the next ferry, which is leaving at four. That give us about thirty minutes to get ready. We need to be there a few minutes early to make sure we don’t miss it.”
They got there with plenty of time to spare and as they were loading everyone onto the ferry, the deck hand kept saying, “Watch your step, watch your head.” He repeated that for every person getting on the ferry. Most of the passengers were already in a good mood and soon they made a song out of the deck hand’s warning. They sang it over and over, all the way to the winery. “Watch your step, watch your head. Watch your step, watch your head.” You could tell that it was going to be a real fun time over at the winery. With everyone having a lot more wine in them, one could only wonder what the trip back from the winery was going to be like.
They stayed a couple of hours, and then they staggered down to the ferry for the trip back. Once again the deck hand warned everyone to “Watch your step, watch your head”.
The trip back was a lot louder and rowdier. It was only a little past seven when they got back to their boat. They decided to lie down and take a little nap, a nap they didn’t make it back up from that night at all.
Monday morning, Labor Day, Jesse woke up with a lot of cobwebs in his head. Bobby Jo was as chipper as usual. It wasn’t hard to tell which one of them wasn’t used to drinking very much. Even before they went to get cleaned up, the Dock Master was coming around checking on the dock permits.
This one was Roger Lyons, whom they knew and liked. He said, “Hey Bobby Jo and Jesse, how are you two doing today? Are you going to be staying any more or are you leaving today?”
“We’re going to be staying the rest of the week, but we are going to pay the dock fee one day at a time. We might decide to stay some place else a day or two.”
“Hey, are you guys going fishing any during the week?” Roger said. “The reason I’m asking is I’m off Wednesday and I would love to go fishing with you guys, if you wouldn’t mind.”
“As far as I know, we’re going to go fishing Wednesday, and you’re welcome to come along. Check back with us Tuesday evening.” Bobbi Jo said.
“You know, I would like to go fishing today,” Jesse said. “I know the docks are packed yet, but the boaters are starting to leave already. If we went out fishing for three or four hours, by the time we came back, the docks would be half empty, and we would be able to get a dock for the rest of the week.”
“We haven’t done any fishing yet this trip,” Bobby Jo said. “That sounds good to me. Scott caught the early “Jet Express” back, so it’ll be just the two of us. I say we go fishing, so let’s get ready and go.”
“Okay, we need to go eat first and then we’ll have to go get some drinks, snacks, and ice. We should be able to shove off in about an hour.”
“Well, get your butt in gear, we’re burning daylight.”
An hour later, they had everything ready to go and Jesse was warming up the engines when Bobby Jo said, “There are still a lot of boats packed in here around us. The blue boat beside us left about ten minutes ago, and it was so tight that they had the people in the docked boats around them, hand walk them out to the opening between the two finger docks. Do you want me to ask them to hand walk us out to the opening also?”
“No dear, this is a twin engine boat, and I’m going to show these people and you, how a real captain does it. You go up on shore and untie the bow. Then you hold the boat while I get the two anchors in from the stern.” Jesse pulled the anchors in and put them away. Standing at the helm and making sure the steering wheel was centered, he said, “I’m ready now, you just get onboard.”
“You don’t want me to shove us off?”
“No. I’ll handle it from here.”
When she was onboard, Jesse shifted both engines into reverse. The boat started to pull back from the shore. When the boat had pulled back about ten feet from the shore, he shifted the port engine into forward while leaving the starboard engine in reverse.
The bow of the boat started to swing to the right, while the boat continued to back away from the shore. Jesse was watching behind him, and as they started to get closer to the boat there, he increased the power on the port engine. Causing the bow to swing faster and slowing down the boat’s reverse motion.
When the bow was clear of the boat to their right, he shifted the starboard engine into forward. The boat started moving forward into the space between the other boats. He slowed the port engine down to match the speed of the starboard engine, making the boat run straight. They moved through the narrow space between the boats, towards the opening between the two finger docks.
Once the bow of the boat was halfway past the end of the nearest finger dock, he shifted the starboard engine into reverse, causing the bow to swing right, and turned the boat into the opening between the finger docks. As soon as the bow was headed into the middle of the opening, he shifted the starboard engine into forward and proceeded straight out of the harbor.
that my dear is how a real captain leaves the Bay. Two right ninety-degree
turns without ever touching the steering wheel. It was all done with the twin
engines.” Man, am I glad that went the
way it was supposed to go. It sure did make me look good.
They stayed out fishing for three hours. When they came back, the Bay was almost empty. Getting a dock was not a problem. Fishing had been good, but they had only caught nine walleyes. It was still a lot of fun to be out on the water fishing again.
After they returned from fishing, they were sitting around when this twenty-six foot fly bridge boat pulled in and docked in front of them. The man driving it, waved at them as if he knew them. Much to their surprise it was Mike. It did look like he had a new boat.
“What do you think of my new boat?” Mike said.
“Wow, that’s a beauty,” Jesse said. “It looks like a true inboard. Does she have twin engines?”
“No, she has got a single inboard, a 318 cu. in. V-8.”
“Man, how much did you have to pay for her?”
“I got her for a song and dance, my old boat and $8000.”
“Why so cheap? Is there something wrong with her?”
“Well one reason was the time of the year, it’s late and they didn’t want to store it all winter. The other reason is the fact that she’s a single engine. Most people don’t want a boat this big with just a single engine. To me, it was too good of a deal to pass up. I’ve all of the room that Linda and I need now.”
“Well, we’ll have to get used to seeing your new boat now. Congratulations on getting a great looking boat and a great deal.”
“We’re going up to get something to eat, we’ll see you both later. Come over later tonight and we’ll have a drink and show you around the boat.”
“If we don’t make it tonight, we’ll be over in the morning for sure.”
Wednesday morning, Roger showed up at the boat at nine, ready to go fishing. Bobby Jo and Jesse were all ready and waiting for him. The weather was clear, but there was a brisk wind, making the water a little bit on the choppy side. They went up along the border, around “G can”. It was a pretty bouncy ride.
They got all set up and had been trolling about an hour, when Roger said, “Guys, I’m not feeling very well.”
“Don’t tell me, you’re going to be seasick?” Bobby Jo said. “What you need to do is eat something. That way if you do get sick, you’ll have something to throw up. It hurts less than dry heaving.”
“Come on now, this isn’t funny. I really feel bad.”
“Like Bobby Jo said, the best thing to do is eat a little something all day long,” Jesse said. “I thought you said that you were raised up here around the lake. How can you be getting seasick?”
“Well, right now it isn’t too hard. It seems rather easy.”
“Try standing up here above the windshield, and let the cool fresh air blow in your face,” Jesse said. “That always helps me when I don’t feel very good.”
“Okay, I’ll try eating something and standing in the fresh air,” Roger said, as he grabbed the pretzel bag and went up by the fresh air. They continued fishing, with minor success.
An hour later, Roger said, “I started to feel a little better, but now I’m feeling worse.”
“Man, if you do throw up, do it off of the stern with the wind, don’t do it off of the sides or you’re going to have to clean the sides when we get back to the dock.” Jesse said.
About ten minutes later, Roger hurried to the back of the boat. Leaning as far out as he could, he started feeding the fish. After he was done, he washed his face with the ice water from the drink cooler and said, “Eating those pretzels seemed like a good idea at the time, but they didn’t feel very good coming back up. I still don’t feel very well, can we go back in now?”
“Why don’t you wait half an hour and see how you’re feeling then. If you still feel bad, we’ll go back in,” Jesse said.
“Okay.” A half an hour later, he said, “It’s been over a half an hour and I still feel bad. I want to go back in now.”
“Well the pansy ass dock master is sick and wants to go back in,” Bobbi Jo said. “You just can’t take him anywhere. I guess we had better reel in the poles, call it a day, and head back in.”
They went back to the Bay, and Roger sure was glad to be standing on dry land again. If the truth were known he thought that he started feeling better as soon as they started to head back in.
“You know we’re never going to let you live this down, don’t you?” Bobby Jo said. “It just goes to show you that even a boy raised around the lake can get seasick.”
The rest of the week seemed to fly by, the way most vacations do, and before they knew it, it was time to head for home. That was the last trip down to the Bay that year. They had already started to plan on coming back next year. It was after all, just a little over eight months until Memorial Day. It hardly seemed like enough time to get everything ready on one hand, and an eternity on the other hand.