First boats are memorable. My first was a simple johnboat, 12-feet long with a 32-inch bottom and extremely low sides. My partner, James, and I went halves on everything. The boat was $40 and had a few dings due to being carried 200 yards in a tornado. It had character.
We bought and rebuilt a used trailer. Added a 5 hp Eska motor. It had no reverse but it would swivel 360 degrees. The shear pins were a problem in the stumps. Later, a neighbor loaned us a 6 hp Johnson that we loved, but soon learned it was stolen since he wouldn’t sell due to no paperwork. It didn’t stop us from using it, but it was a worry until our next upgrade to a 7.5 Chrysler.
Our boat was severely overloaded, but that was no issue because we weren’t experienced or smart enough to realize the danger. What bothered us was the boat’s ultra-thin aluminum. We carried five-minute epoxy for repairs at the lake. Quality repairs were made at home, at night, with the boat flipped over and a light underneath it. Every place we could see light got a coating of epoxy, so a fourth of the bottom was coated by the time we sold it.
We splurged on a new Minn Kota, but only after I fell through the ceiling in my house while repairing a leak. A payoff from the insurance company, and a few shortcuts on house repairs, provided enough money to buy the trolling motor.
There were a few close calls. We were hung up on stumps in the middle of Lake Conway while fishing at night. We bounced, did circles, pushed and pulled to get off stump after stump. More than once we thought we were sinking. A bass tournament takeoff at Lake DeGray nearly put us under, too. The list goes on.
James liked to drive his truck 80-plus mph on interstate; still does. Not a big deal, except for the revolutions-per-minute of our little 8-inch trailer tires. We expected a “Call your buddy because he’s never seen a wreck like this” moment, but there were no catastrophes.
I’m old now. I won’t get into a boat that isn’t safe. However, I’ll always cherish the fun and memories with my fishing partner and our first boat.
Good fishin’ & God Bless,
Tim Huffman, Editor/Sr. Writer