We all know chocking the tires on your boat trailer is something that should always be done, but sometimes the simple things get forgotten.
I learned my lesson the hard way last week.
After a great morning of bass fishing with three puppies aboard, I trailered my boat using my camp’s launch, and when I went to unhook the trailer, things went downhill - literally.
To make matters worse, I still had a headache from getting knocked senseless and bloody when a poor cast into a branch resulted in a lure flying back and smacking my forehead. (Watch the attached video to see me keep fishing with blood pouring out of my skull!)
I had parked the boat in my driveway next to the boat ramp, except I was about a foot or so short of where I usually park. Apparently, that one foot dipped downhill a few degrees, which quickly turn into a long, steep long boat ramp that’s unusable by two-wheel drive vehicles.
Even though the boat seemed level, it turned into a bowling ball heading downhill towards the 15-foot-deep bayou when I yanked the trailer from the ball of the truck.
And with the boat securely tied to the front and back of the trailer, I was doubtful the vessel would stay afloat. But instead of staying out of harm’s way and letting her sink, I took off in rescue of my precious ‘Lucky 13.’
This sturdy 1970’s Boston Whaler haul has been through a lot: The previous owner flipped it on the highway going 60 mph. I flipped it in the bayou after hitting a log, and it’s been pounded and engulfed by strong seas fishing the barrier islands more times than I can remember.
There was no time to think, only to react. In shorts, a T-shirt and crocs, I sprinted after my boat on the jagged, rocky old cement launch.
Unable to stop the boat, I was able to nudge the rolling trailer slightly sideways.
The boat crashed safely in the cut grass along the shoreline, and then it was my turn to crash.
I wasn’t able to stop sprinting downhill until my shin ran into the trailer’s tongue, sending me flipping onto the ridged 50-year-old concrete slab and finally rolling into the water where more broken cement blocks waited.
The damage was done: A pulled left shoulder and back, a bruised skull, a swollen foot and ankle,and bleeding from about 12 places!
The boat keys were lost along with one of my Crocs, but I had saved my Lucky 13!
I was pretty bummed out because this happened just five days before my final track meet of the summer that I had been training for all year.
All week I couldn’t even jog, but with pain in my foot and shoulder every step of the way, I ran my fastest 800 meter (1/2 mile) race since college and finally achieved my goal of breaking two minutes with a 1:59 performance.
Would I do it again? Of course!
I live to save the day - even if it’s saving stuff from my own foolish mistakes. But rest assured, I will be chocking my tires and parking my boat further away from that launch.
However, this incident wasn’t as scary as the one I had in college one night after class. My friend attached the Lucky 13 to my truck while I rigged up the poles.
Well, after putting the boat on the truck’s hitch, he apparently was more concerned about making sure his beer was aboard. With class over for the day, we took off quickly and headed out - with the trailer tongue unfastened and the safety chains dangling on the ground.
About halfway on the ride to Bayou Black, I hit the brakes anticipating a bumpy flat bridge on Highway 20. After the first bump, I applied my brakes harder before the second bump, but something odd happened as I slowed down.
We were getting passed up on, but not by a car. The Lucky 13 was blazing down the right shoulder of the road, cruising at about 50 mph.
Somehow the tiny front trailer tire held out and the boat safely rolled another 100 yards past the bridge on the side of the road.
At that point, I made sure we were hooked up properly and our trip ended with two limits of bass.
Now I always make sure the boat is securely locked to the truck, but I’ll be triple-checking my chocks from now on.
I don’t mind sharing my mistakes with others. I hope it gives everyone a chuckle, and helps prevent these same incidents from happening to them.