Boat Ramp Blues

Failed Launch Yields Cash For Clunkers

Ron Ferguson June 25, 2013

I was born into a family of fishermen, but as I grew up I gained more of an interest for skiing and snowboarding over early mornings cutting bait. I climbed the cross-country ranks through high school and college, but after graduation I found a job back home. With a bit more free time and no snow in sunny South Florida I really wanted to get back into fishing, although it had been over 15 years since I held a rod in my hand.

boat-ramp-blues1

1 of 1

Photo: reysart.com

While I dreamed of one day owning a flashy boat, my student loans were piling up and my 4-cylinder, turbo-charged wagon that treated me right for nearly 200,000 miles simply wasn’t up for the task of towing such a hefty payload. I also had my eyes on a sleek new pickup truck, but I simply couldn’t afford both. In hindsight, the sound investment would have been to purchase the truck, although at the time all I could think about was bending my rod. At my monthly visit to the auto mechanic I mentioned that I was interested in towing a boat and asked what payload I could handle.

“Well, your sporty crossover might be outdated and better suited for short trips to and from the local arts and crafts store, but it has a turbo-charged 4-cylinder and all wheel drive, so you’re good for around 5,000 pounds.” He said with confidence.

“That seems like a lot for my car, are you sure about that?” I replied

“Yea buddy, you’ll have no problem launching a boat or getting up the steepest, slipperiest ramp. No worries, go catch ‘em up!”

That night while browsing Boat Trader I found the vessel of my dreams…a pristine 23 foot Mako with new 200 HP outboard. I knew it might be a little overkill for my towing capacity, but at the price it was offered I had to jump on it. My eagerness to fish clearly overtook my rational decision making abilities. Two days later I met the seller and sealed the deal. Because I only previously towed a bicycle rack, my hitch had a small 1¼-inch receiver, but I was prepared with a hitch converter to accept the trailer’s two inch ball.

In no time I was rolling down the highway en route to the local ramp for my first big adventure. At first everything seemed to be going fine and I was riding in style, quite surprised that my stiff racing suspension handled the payload with ease. Suddenly, for no apparent reason my check engine light illuminated, but I was so close to the marina I pressed on. I made it to the ramp and screwed in the boat’s drain plug and removed the tie down straps in preparation of launching.

Truth is I was extremely nervous but reassured myself by repeating, “You got this…You got this!”

As I got in the car and depressed the parking break, I started sliding backwards down the ramp. Even with ample horsepower I had no control as my tires screeched and spun as they tried to gain traction. Before I knew it my car was three feet underwater and sinking fast. At that very moment I broke down in tears. Not because I was embarrassed or irate, but I was so upset that this was the way it had to end with my beloved Subaru. After all we had been through it deserved better than a shallow, saltwater grave.

Join the Discussion