An Island in the Middle of the River

May 14th, 2015 | Posted by Kyla in Boat Propellers

The Gorge Amphitheater in Central Washington. Photo courtesy of

The Gorge Amphitheater in Central Washington. Photo courtesy of

Looking back, the whole trip was a great misadventure. But sometimes, those are the best kind. Which is a good thing, because I’ve had a lot of them. Thankfully, they make for great stories. For example …

My husband and I towed our boat to The Gorge in Central Washington to see back-to-back Dave Miller concerts in the stunning natural amphitheater. We were staying at a friend’s vacation home (read: double-wide trailer) near Vantage, with easy access to the Columbia River and the concert venue. This was going to be fun!

We launched the boat mid-day with four of us on board, flying across the lake with the wind in our hair, the sun on our backs, and three whole days with nothing to do but goof off.

That’s when things went wrong. We heard a terrible scraping sound as the hull of the boat hit rocks and started to skid and shudder. My husband instantly killed the ignition. He had also just killed the prop.

It turns out that Rock Island Dam, upstream of our location, was – at that precise moment – reducing water flow on the Columbia River. As they tend to do occasionally. Who knew? We ended up standing in the middle of the river – on a watery little island of sorts – with water pooling around our ankles, staring at a mangled propeller.

Thank God for cell phones and friends. As it turns out, we had friends nearby with jet skis. We took the prop off the boat where it stood, put out the anchor, and were hauled to shore one by one, leaving the derelict boat behind us.

After a few hours in nearby Wenatchee, Washington, we had a new prop and a new lease on the weekend. We were college–educated, life-experienced, trouble-shooters. We were problem-solvers. We were on top of this little problem, no problem at all.

Returning south on Highway 90 we could see the Columbia River below and the site of our propeller incident. So, where was the boat? Gone, baby, gone. As in, not there. Not where we left it. Gone. We both sat in the Jeep, stone silent, imagining our sweet little ski boat floating downstream all by itself until it inevitably crashed into something, lilted hard to port, and sank below the water’s surface, gone forever.

We glumly drove to our weekend double-wide to sulk with our friends. But not before a sporty little car full of carefree people passed us on the highway and threw a rock into our windshield. Sigh. Was it 5 o’clock yet?

Much to our surprise and relief, our friends greeted us with frosty margaritas … and our boat. While we were gone, as it turns out, the river rose and they towed our boat to shore with their jet ski. Thank you dear friends!

All of this is to say that sometimes you need help. No one is an island. (Especially not an island in the middle of a river.) Sometimes, we all need friends to rely on, and in a sweet cosmic arrangement, true friends always seem to be happy to pitch in and help when things go sideways.


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