Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Here’s another reminder that fall is here and winter is around the corner. Speaking of around the corner, just to the left of where I was standing when I took this picture is the scene of one of the most thrilling and dangerous moments of my life in Mathews. In fact, it was almost my death in Mathews.

My father collected many toys over the years, and one day he decided we needed an airboat.

Wikipedia describes an airboat as follows:
Airboats are essentially flat-bottomed vessels propelled in a forward direction by an aircraft-type propeller and powered by either an aircraft or automotive engine. The engine and propeller are enclosed in a protective metal cage that prevents objects, e.g., tree limbs, branches, clothing, beverage containers, or wildlife from coming in contact with the whirling propeller, which could cause devastating damage to the vessel and traumatic injury to the operator and passengers. The propeller produces a rearward column of air that propels the airboat forward. Steering is accomplished by forced air passing across vertical rudders. There must be a forceful airflow in order for the vessel to be steered. Airboats do not have brakes and are incapable of traveling in reverse. Stopping and reversing direction are dependent upon good operator/pilot/driver skills.
Let me just say a few words about my experience with the airboat:
1. I’ve never EVER seen one around here.

2. That’s because they’re death traps. They were built first to deafen, then terrify and ultimately kill people, especially children.

3. They do not operate predictably in deep water. Or at all.

Middle Sister and I decided to take the new contraption for a spin, and naturally I had to drive.

My father provided detailed instructions on safe and proper operation. These instructions were as follows: “Here ya go! Have fun!” Then he walked off and took a nap. There were no adults to be found in a 50-mile radius.

All I remember is a very brief spin up the creek in deep water (no good for airboats) against the wind (no good for airboats) and deafening noise directly behind us (no good for eardrums). None of this was good for Chesapeake Bay Children.

The noisy helicopter blades swirled right behind us, and if either one of us had decided to stick a finger in there, we’d have been flung to Jupiter.

Tired of fighting the wind, and deafened by the noise even with earplugs, I turned the boat back around and high-tailed it home. Determined to see how fast the boat would go, I floored it. The wind was behind us giving way too much of an extra push, and we were over deep water, which equated to unpredictable steering. Particularly for an unskilled operator.

The next thing I knew we were headed directly towards the shore, wide open, helicopter blades whirling and Middle Sister screaming. (I couldn’t hear her shrieks over the deafening sounds of the death blades.) I was trying to steer us away from shore but it just wasn’t working. We were headed straight for land.

What happened next can best be explained by Middle Sister. The boat ended up perfectly cushioned in a bed of marsh grass, helicopter blades still swirling.

Two stunned children disembarked, pulled out their earplugs, laughed nervously and agreed never to speak of the incident again.


Unknown said...

I can't believe the courage you had as a child. I would never go beyond a kayak to this day.

I love that picture!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Hey - I have to work the paying job today and will not have access to anything other than boredom and inefficiency in the workplace until later this evening.

I'd really like Middle Sister to add additional perspective on this, so hound her today while I'm gone if she doesn't respond. (Love you, Middle Sister, and remember I did NOT injure you in this particular incident.)

Have a great Wednesday, everyone.

Mental P Mama said...

And no camera to capture the entire episode....I remember the father had this boat on "Flipper." You all were too cool.

Bear Naked said...

I have to admit that you and your sisters had a much more exciting childhood than I had.
Exciting and DANGEROUS.
No wonder you have so many great stories to tell.

Bear((( )))

Anonymous said...

You have got to live in one of the most beautiful places in the country! I'm always so impressed when you say...I took this in my backyard...i stopped in the middle of the road and took this...i took this etc...
Lucky girl!

nativedevil said...

Do you remember when the Coast Guard station had a hover craft for a few years? I only saw it out on the water once. It was the first thing that came to mind. That wasn't a VW engine on the airboat, was it?

Annie said... where is the middle sister comment...come on..we are supposed to hound you till you come out with it...!

Was it middle sister the other day who reminded you about the incident on the previous post?


ps I love hearing my sister's (siblings) comments on various happenings. It is amazing how different things appeared to us all.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

GJ-I can't believe the courage either. These days I scream at the sight of a cricket hopping in my path, much less the sight of hitting the shoreline wide open in a death machine.

MPM - Cameras weren't invented back then. Neither was common sense, at least not in the Chesapeake Bay Family.

BN - Actually, I think every single person on this planet has exciting stories to tell they just don't realize it. If you take something that happened to you and just start free flow writing you either get a story that others might like or a lot of hot air, which is what I am infamous for. Or they will nod off to sleep as my 5 readers do. I'm glad to provide a homeopathic sleep aid.

Sara - Indeed we are so very fortunate to live here, mostly because it's one of the last frontiers away from the strip malls and endless concrete. But just like I told BN about the stories, I believe there is beauty to be found most places, you just have to stop long enough to see it.

Native Devil- I'm SO glad you asked. I could have sworn it was a VW engine, which would be the ONLY logical explanation for that purchase, but I wasn't sure so I omitted that little detail. Now I know it. A VW and a 747 don't produce the same level of noise, and it was the 747 I heard behind me in that thing.

Annie - It's just that sort of perspective --someone else's opinion of the same event or situation--that I love. I can guarantee you Middle Sister's version of this will be very different. It will go something like this: Chesapeake Bay Woman, as usual, tried to kill me. THe End.

Oh, and MIddle Sis? I can tell by sitemeter that you were on here earlier this morning. If you care to send me a guest post on the topic, I'd gladly publish it on your behalf.

Karen Deborah said...

shoot your father sounds just like my brother and he would've driven the boat to hell and back, yeeehawin the whole way!

Anonymous said...

OK, that's just gut-bustingly funny:

My father provided detailed instructions on safe and proper operation. These instructions were as follows: “Here ya go! Have fun!” Then he walked off and took a nap. There were no adults to be found in a 50-mile radius.


Anonymous said...

OK, here goes. Unfortunately, I don't remember as many details as CBW. I can say that she loved speed and scaring her sisters and as you recall, airboats don't have breaks. So, we're sliding across the creek in this thing and she forgets about the "no brakes" thing as we approach the only thing between water and land in that area.....marsh. Marsh filled with fiddler crabs and weeds and shells and yuck. So she turns the boat slightly so that I am closest to the marsh. I know I was screaming and if I'm not mistaken, she jumps out of the boat....abandons ship!! Of course, I had my eyes closed until I felt the boat stop. Good thing, because I would have been even more terrified had I realized I was the only man aboard. Now understand, that these boats don't know the difference between land and water and marsh. So, I believe I did a little marsh skimming. Once I opened my eyes, I did a quick survey and when I realized that I still had two arms and two legs, I may have started laughing. Not sure...

-Middle Sis

Anonymous said...

Um, I can't believe how STUPID I was to ever let either one of you drive me around in ANYTHING. I too had quite a few moments in the appropriately called " airboat" ( we were in the air, headed towards the SKY most of the time.) I also can't believe that the parental units would let three young girls loose to drive: a huge helicopter-style bladed apparatus where blades were covered by rattan like netting that large heads could fit through.

Most of my memories involve large amounts of MUD in all orifices, horrific exorcist type screams,deafening noises coming from engine even through ear plugs, and SCRAPES from that thick elephant like bladed grass that can cut through glass. Who needed an amusement park when you had this DEATH TRAP driven by BUFFOONS for entertainment?? Do I even need to mention the RADIO FLYER WAGON incident??


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

There are several, if not many, accuracies to Middle Sister's statements. I did try and steer the boat to the left, which would have meant she would have hit shore first in the event of the oh-so-likely crash. Whether this was intentional or not is up for interpretation. Just not by a trained psychiatrist.

It would appear that indeed I was trying to kill her, but if you take a step back further and peel the layers of the Family Onion back more, who was killing whom? Where were the adults in this whole scenario? Lastly, I do have one correction to her description of what was in that marsh we landed in. There were indeed fiddler crabs, weeds and shells but instead of YUCK there was MUCK. There is really a very distinct difference, particularly in the texture and the smell.

Baby Sis: I see you're back on the computer again. The Radio Flyer incident (wagon pulled by CBW) PLUS Middle Sister's ill-fated ride on the back of that red bicycle (driven by CBW) are worthy of separate posts.

The next few days will be devoted to our mother and grandmother's kitchen adventures, but in the near future I will write about the above.

Or not.

foolery said...

Any family memory that contains the word "incident," for which all family members willingly use the word "incident," is worthy of a blog post, if not a submission to the New England Journal of Medicine (Psychology department).

I will be looking for that Red Flier post.

And the captcha code today is SPEDR, which would be more ironic only if it were CRASHR.