A week or three ago, we were on our way to an appointment and we bought a boat. Now it may seem like an odd thing to just pick up along the way, but that’s what happened. You probably think this was an impulse purchase, but I assure you that we talked about it for TWO whole days before pulling the trigger. It was one of those “hey, you know a boat would make our time at camp more fun” sort of conversations.
The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea, but I knew there would be hurdles. You see, Bill is allergic to gasoline. Not really allergic to the stuff itself, really. It’s more like an allergy to things that are gasoline adjacent. He has a very strong dislike for internal combustion engines. This feeling runs deep. He won’t have any more to do with them than necessary. The post lawnmowing cursing is usually quite colorful. Crayola doesn’t have enough colors to give it justice. Gasoline and the motors that require it are his nemeses.
Bill’s dislike of anything associated with engines stopped my boat fantasy dead in the water. Then I remembered that my Dad used to tinker around with outboard motors and he had this fleeting electric trolling motor phase. This was years ago but I still remember him hauling the car battery into the boat and hanging that tiny motor on the back. It wasn’t fast, but it sure was quiet. All the better to sneak up on those wary trout!
Hmmm…electric…hmmm…no gas…hmmm. Yeah, my thought process went on like that for a while. I really am not exaggerating the number of ‘hmmms’ going on in my head, either. I was hmmm-ing a lot. You see, Bill wasn’t the only one with a set of must-haves. His was really a list of must-have-nots, but I won’t belabor that point.
What I needed was a pontoon boat. I know, they have this reputation of being party-barges and I am certainly not a person easily found on a party-anything. However, I needed the stability so I wouldn’t drown. It’s not that I don’t know how to swim, I just can’t be trusted to stay alive if an epileptic seizure comes along. That sort of scenario in a typical boat might be the end of me. Being in a canoe would…well, let’s just not think about the canoe scenario. I could become smallmouth bass food. The Pumpkinseeds could actually eat me rather than just nibble my toes as they usually do. We won’t even talk about the snapping turtles!
A pontoon boat wouldn’t normally be my first choice of craft if my mortality wasn’t an issue, but on further consideration, it made some sense. I love wildlife and a pontoon boat wouldn’t be so scary for them. We could toodle around the pond to see what’s going on without actually visiting people. Did I mention that I’m an introvert? I guess a wave toward someone on the shore would be ok, but let’s not go overboard. 😉
Keep in mind that none of this was real. It was all fantasy and I was just thinking about boat types, and motors, and gas-avoidance as a sort of mental exercise. How could one propel a party-less barge without gas? It really didn’t matter because it would never happen. But just for fun, I looked at a couple of the boats online and they were overwhelmingly huge…with correspondingly huge gas motors. That made sense. What electric trolling motor could move one of those behemoths? I remember thinking “ok, that query was fun…what’s the next topic I should explore?” Deck planking was on my list of research subjects, but my heart wasn’t in it. Your heart really has to be in it to research deck planking. I’m not sure when my heart will be in it, but it wasn’t going to be right then, that’s for sure. Maybe they make tiny pontoon boats?
During one of my fantasy pontoon/electric trolling motor searches, a number of sites popped up with the typical gas-powered boats. Surprisingly a couple of them were smaller than usual. I aimlessly poked around and then I noticed a site that specifically mentioned a pontoon boat with electric backup. Well now, let’s look at this!
When I opened the page, I was astounded. It was like the manufacturer had read our often disparate minds and cobbled together the most weird-ass hybrid the boating world has ever seen. As I read down through the specs, it was becoming clear that this was a craft that even Bill would like. It wasn’t an electric pontoon boat, it was a pedal-powered pontoon boat with electric backup! Oh, I knew he would be all over this one. He’s an exercise freak and he is always on his bicycle. This way, he could pedal his little heart out and I could wave as we passed gape-mouthed onlookers wondering what the hell that weird boat was!
The idea was amusing. I might have even chuckled to myself. But as I continued to read the specs and look at the picture, I was the one who was gape-mouthed. How in the hell did they ever think of putting pedals in a pontoon boat with electric backup AND a solar option!? Since there is no power at camp, the idea of hauling a battery home to charge it was daunting, but if solar could help… Hmmmm….
The picture of it sent me into gales of laughter. Look at that thing with the solar panel on the back and what the hell is that? The thing doesn’t have a proper propeller, it has a paddle wheel like the boats on the Mississippi of Mark Twain’s era! I was beginning to think I was having one of those Alice in Wonderland kind of trips. Nothing about that boat made sense, and yet it made all the sense in the world.