Maiden Voyage - 8/9
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We went into Dalton today and had breakfast in the cafe.  They make a great country gravy that's good on just about anything.  Lewie had his over a biscuit while Denise and I opted for chicken fried steak.  Excellent.

After breakfast, we bought some bait and came back to camp.  Denise and Lewie fished at the bridge while I decided to take the boat down to the ramp and see what happened.  I told Denise what I was going to do and asked her not to tell Lewie.  I need to learn how to do this myself if I'm going to enjoy the boat whenever I want.  And I want to learn how to do it here where the ramps aren't nearly as busy as the ones back home.  People here are much more tolerant and understanding.  People back home would be ready to fight if I tied up a boat launch too long.

After backing the boat down the ramp, I quickly learn just how slippery those ramps can be.  I kicked off my shoes and then stepped into the water.  Although I couldn't see it, the ramp was covered in alge.  I started to slip and must have looked like a maniac directing an entire orchestra.  Thankfully I didn't go down and was able to catch myself by grabbing the side of the boat and the tailgate of the truck.

A small shove was all it took to get the boat to float off of the trailer and into the lake.  Held onto the "leash" that Earl had made for me back home and guided the boat over to the dock.  After tying it up, I parked the truck and trailer.

The boat is so stable in the water that I was able to easily step from the dock to the bow of the boat.  I had learned from the two test runs Earl and I made back home not to prime the engine much.  It floods very easily.  One small squeeze and the engine fired right up.

I put it in gear and headed for the bridge where Lewie and Denise were fishing.  The water is too shallow for me to get very close but I waved to Denise.  Once she saw me, I headed over to the docks close to the steakhouse and waited.

Lewie couldn't believe that I launched the boat myself.  Denise and he boarded and we went fishing.  We headed to the southwest corner and trolled for the next 3 hours.  Although not many fish were caught (just some perch and a few sunnies) we had a great time.

I dropped Denise off at the steakhouse but Lewie insisted upon helping me load the boat back on the trailer.  I really wanted to try it myself but that wasn't going to happen.  When we got to the dock, Lewie insisted upon holding the boat instead of just letting me tie it up while getting the truck and trailer.  OK, if he wants to hold it, what do I care?

I backed down the ramp and was careful to make the trailer straight.  As I walked to the boat, another man arrived to launch his boat.  I apologized ahead of time and explained that this was my first time loading a boat.  He said not to worry.  See, you wouldn't get that in California.

I got in the boat, fired it up, and tried to drive it onto the trailer.  I missed on the first attempt as I wasn't coming in straight.  I circled around and tried again.  This time success.  I probably should have either backed the trailer down a little farther or drove up a little faster as the boat didn't quite get up far enough.  But the man hooked up the boat to the hand winch on the trailer and began to crank the boat up the rest of the way.  Once I hopped out, the boat when up real easy.

So that was fun.  We enjoyed a few beers after fishing and then barbequed country style pork ribs for supper.  It was a great day!

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