Aug 29, 2010

After You - Bear lake

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An epic voyage. With a full battery I took the boat downlake to the channels which lead to the dam at the end of the lake. The goal was to see how far one can get on a single battery charge.

When my parents first got the cabin it came with a small motorboat and a 6 or 9 horse motor. Just enough for fishing. We once took the boat down to the end of the lake through the channels - rowing a bit, poling a bit, motoring a bit. Jim was in charge, I just remember thinking it was super awesome cool. We'd never been down there since. We took the latest, new, big motor speedboat down there this spring just me and my family, but only entered the channel and turned around. A taste to inspire.

So while I needed to know how far I could go, I also figured this would be a great opportunity to see how well the After You could manage in thick weeds, winding channels and an electric trolling motor. I was expecting every kind of trouble short of flipping or sinking. I came close.

Heading downlake was awesome. Another epic voyage across a massive sea -- well, it feels like that with a small motor on a good lake. Only took 45 minutes or so, if I recall correctly.

Entering the channel was exciting. The boat slipped through like it was built for it, and the motor was holding up just fine. Being near-silent, sneaking up on wildlife was a routine matter and this trip was no exception. I followed the Great Blue Heron down the channels for about half an hour. Every time I got closer he'd move down another hundred yards. On the way out I saw two of them together in the same spot. Sorry for spoiling your date, dude.

By the time I got to the second (last) bridge the battery was already running slower. I was tired of pulling it and dropping weeds off the prop - though that was really quite easy. All I had to do was bend over the motor a bit, tilt it forward, back, forward and then wait for the boat to drift over the massive pile of weeds I left behind. Once it cleared I dropped it and we were off again. Sometimes for another hundred feet, but more often just another ten feet.

I took a turn rowing through the weeds as well. I wanted to see how feasible that was, as well as preserve even a bit of battery. I was thrilled (but not surprised) to find the motor simply lost power gradually. If I turned it off for a bit it seemed to come back a bit stronger. But it definitely was starting to slow to a speed that wasn't completely efficient.

Under the last bridge there was some semi-submerged pilings and I decided that was enough to turn back and call it a success. Maybe I'll head down there again some time, but probably in the spring when the water is clearer. And operation "underwater cam" would really apply nicely here as well.

So I turn back and head back up through the weeds. But the time I got to the part of the channel which was fairly clear and just a long run up to the lake I was running short on travel hours. The plan was to call Jill from the boat radio and she'd come down in the big boat and give me a tow back up the lake as much as I needed it. It depending on the staying power of the motor, really. Cell phone was backup, as this was a bit of a stretch for the boat radio, as well.

The radio was barely getting static so I reached for -- oh wait, where's my phone? Console box, right. No... it's not there... Maybe I dropped it in the cabin. Not in there. Frantic search later and I'm realizing that my Super Awesome Nexus One Android Phone was lost at sea! Had I seen it go overboard I would have gone in headfirst after it. Looking at the GPS track later it appeared to be right by one of the bridges. I will go visit the spot from time to time as a memorial.

Finally got Jill on the radio as I coasted into range. All I had to do was cover about a hundred yards of channel, but it was uplake and into the wind. So I spent most of my power on keeping in the channel and out of the lilypads. Jill showed up and had to wait for me to limp out to her in the bay. We hooked her up to the big boat and we were towed up the lake at record speed. Well, record for the After You. Was kinda fun to see this wake behind her:

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