The Last Word From the Lake: Watching the Boats Go Past

There are so many sayings about boats. “The best boat is the one your friend owns.” Or, “A boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money.” And I’ve always liked, “The two best days you own a boat are the day you bring it home and the day you sell it.” 

I’ve never owned a boat, but I love riding on other people’s boats. Here at the lake I watch all the different kinds driving past. I like the low-to-the-water bass fishing boats with huge engines that scream around the lake and then stop in a cove and fish for a few minutes before racing to another fishing spot. I am pretty amazed by how close those guys get to docks and moored structures using their trolling motors. They drive the boat with their feet while also fishing. That’s multi-tasking if I’ve ever seen it. If they were chewing gum at the same time too I feel like they’d get into more accidents. 

Then I see a fair amount of middle console fishing boats. I thought those were more made for the ocean, but I have to remind myself that I don’t drive boat and don’t know anything about them. I can’t imagine people are using them for deep sea fishing on the lake, but maybe they’re hauling in massive catfish or something.

The pontoon is the boat that makes the most sense to me. It’s the minivan of the lake. No one will confuse it for a sleek sports car, but it is the most logical choice. You can pile all of your friends onto this floating living room, and it’s tough to go fast enough to get yourself in any trouble. I watched a guy on a pontoon drive right through the middle of the shoal markers the other day and thought to myself, “That guy either knows exactly what he’s doing or he has no clue what he’s doing.” He emerged unscathed as far as I could tell, so either he’s smart or lucky. I’m not sure which is better. 

The boat that makes the least sense to me on the lake are the enormous yacht-like boats. Where are people taking them? Are they sleeping on them overnight somewhere? There are so many bridges that those boats wouldn’t be able to fit underneath that they can’t be going all that far. I’d guess that the only reason to own one of these huge boats is that you really, really enjoy owning a huge boat. I like watching them come through the main channel because they’re always being followed by a swarm of jet skiers launching off their wake. I see the power they produce as their wakes crash on shore and I wonder how much it costs to fill them up with gas. 

The loudest boats that come through are the long cigarette boats that race up and down the main channel throwing huge rooster tails while their engine noise rises and falls with the chop. I understand the appeal of riding on a boat like that. Going fast is fun. It’s definitely not as fun for everyone else on the lake, but I suppose we can all watch them go by and calculate in our heads how much that boat costs to operate and feel a little better about our own choices. 

Speaking of expensive boats, my favorite boats would be surf boats. They look sleek and can accommodate as many people as you can pack on them, plus a day on the lake of surfing is tons of fun. I stopped at the boat dealer on a whim once while killing some time and saw the prices on the surf and wakeboard boats. I asked the boat dealer if those were the real prices or if it’s like a jewelry store in New York where the prices on everything are wildly inflated to make you think you’re getting a deal. No, he said, that’s what they sell for. I’m good to continue to just sit on the dock and watch them. 


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