Is a lifetime really not too long to live as friends?
Two Guys, a Boat, and a Season of FriendshipBy Evan Nehring
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another,
‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one. - C.S. Lewis
DaveMy dad bought an old boat when I was finishing up my last year in high school. It was a 16-footer in need of much TLC. I don’t know what came over us, but my buddy, Dave, and I offered to work on it when the weather turned nice that spring. I don’t know what came over my dad, but he continued to say, “Yes,” as I came back time and again for money.
We didn’t exactly draw up plans, but Dave and I plotted, schemed and spent months of long hours working on that boat. We cut into the metal ribbing of the open floor and built a multi-level plywood floor. We crafted navy vinyl upholstered side panels. Dave mostly worked on a stained wood engine mount board. We found a used 1961 70HP Mercury outboard engine. It was a sickly white and green, so we painted it all gloss black and got Black Max stickers for it. We picked up a new prop, too. I mounted the throttle at the driver position and ran new cables for the steering system.
The front of the boat was closed, so we used a blue shiny indoor-outdoor carpet along the top and sides and through the floor of the boat. It was coming together! We bought a couple of blue clamp-on seats for the front bench. All new chrome marine tie-down hardware and ropes complemented the electrical we did for that red and green light in the front and the light-on-a-pole in the rear. So we needed a marine battery with a plastic case, and finished the electrical system with a bilge pump under a hinged door in the floor under the engine.
We bought two blue tones of marine paint and loaded it up to take out to our friend, Alphonse. He did auto body work for a living and I don’t think he charged my dad for the paint job. It turned out very nice! Finally, we were ready to launch. Dave’s dad lent us his truck and we loaded up for the cruise down to the boat ramp on Lake of the Woods. I grabbed the rope as Dave backed the trailer into the water. We were almost in disbelief as we watched her float…and then we realized that we forgot to close the drain plug and she was taking on water! That was quickly remedied and we were off!
She didn’t plane out the quickest, but I can still hear the roar of the engine as we cut out into the bay. There were no passengers. We had triumphed together and we had our day on the lake. At one point, we set out into open water, set the throttle at medium speed, and stupidly both climbed out onto the carpeted nose to catch sun and relax for a couple minutes. Nothing would go wrong on that day!
My parents moved away from Kenora two months before my graduation. I stayed with Dave’s family to finish out the school year. Our boat launch day was the only day we would ever drive her. I walked the graduation line and left town for good the next morning. Our friendship was cut off when the boat left Ontario. We’ve visited since then but he’s in British Columbia and I’m in Wisconsin.
Family make arrangements to travel all over the world to be together, but friends can’t always afford the time or money to do that. We have to make choices: who will we spend our vacation with and who gets relegated to Facebook chatter and Christmas cards? Michael W. Smith said, “A lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.” That’s only true in the sense that we pick up where we left off. It’s not true in the sense that we get to spend the rest of our lives hanging out together. Not usually.
Enjoy every moment with your friends. Treat them well. Seasons change and end without warning. The present is a gift.
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