Grateful Heart Monday

Happy Grateful Heart Monday everyone! As I begin another week with a new piece of gratitude, I have plenty of thanks for my Higher Power for a few “lucky” things that happened during a 14-mile boat trip I took to Put-In-Bay island just over a week ago now.

I use the word “lucky” in quotes here solely because I honestly don’t believe much in luck these days. Rather, I feel my Higher Power has the tendency to place a helping hand out there for me from time to time, just to let me know He’s got my back, as I feel He did in the case of this recent boat excursion.

On a warm and sunny day where the weather was perfectly pristine for a ride on the lake, my friend invited my partner and I out on his 22-foot boat that he had just purchased the summer prior after getting his first boaters license. He was more than happy to take us over to this touristy island that’s busily travelled to during summer months. I had already visited it once before, by Cessna plane several years ago, but had wanted to go back the next time by boat to experience what it felt like being out on the open waters of Lake Erie.

You see, I grew up enjoying much of the summer months on a lake myself, at Lake Houston that is, where my Grandparents once owned a home directly on that lake’s edge in Crosby, Texas. They had a 22-foot boat themselves that I enjoyed quite a bit during many of my visits there. So, on some level, I was reliving one my fonder childhood memories as my friend’s boat slowly ventured out from its marina dock and filled it up with a little gas at a waterside station along the way. Shortly thereafter, we left the channel, merging onto the lake, and quickly picked up speed. The waves gently bounced the boat up and down while I stared out into the crest of the water being made by the boat’s engine. As I meditated on that and soaked up some of the sun’s rays, I felt relaxed and had a good natural buzz going.

Within 45 minutes or so, we arrived at the area where the majority of the passenger boats dock on this island when suddenly we noticed how crowded it was. We soon discovered from a few individuals sitting on a nearby boat that it was a special weekend there for boaters and from what we were told, every dock was booked and occupied.

At that precise moment, those fond childhood memories and natural buzz I had going started to evaporate as I began wondering if I was going to lose my non-refundable $75 golf cart rental (the majority of transportation on the island) I had paid for the night before online. After checking with a dockmaster who confirmed that everything was indeed booked and being unsuccessful in getting through to the one place he suggested, that buzz was totally gone. In a last-ditch-effort, I randomly called the only other dock company nearby to only discover they too were entirely booked. When I expressed my disappointment and told the woman on the other end we were new boaters to the island and how I was going to lose my already-paid-for cart rental, she told me to hold on. A few minutes later she kindly offered us a four-hour stay at the only space they had left at their docks, that being the one they use for themselves, which oddly wasn’t occupied. I thanked her profusely and thanked my Higher Power as well.

Once docked, I raced over to the rental place, wondering if they had given my golf cart away, given I was almost two hours past the time I had told them I’d pick it up and the fact that I noticed all the other rental places were entirely sold out. When I approached the rental desk, I was pleasantly surprised to learn they had kept my cart aside, even though plenty had inquired about it. After handing me the key to the 4-person cart and wishing me a good afternoon, I was feeling even more grateful. Over the next four hours, I got to enjoy a tasty lunch at a local restaurant, gorged on a few truffles at a homemade chocolate shop, played a challenging game of mini golf, and explored a 52-degree cave, all before it was time to head home.

Unfortunately, after returning the cart and getting back into the boat where the engine was promptly started, it began smoking and sputtering a little. We swiftly uncovered it while I said a little prayer and by the time we hit the open waters again, the smoke had all but disappeared, yet I still kept a watchful eye on the 30-year-old boat’s engine. About thirty minutes or so later though, I began having another worry, one that we were heading in the wrong direction. When I opened the maps app on my phone, my suspicion was confirmed. We had been travelling in the south east direction when we really had needed to be traveling in the southwest direction. After changing course, we eventually found our way back to the channel and had just entered it when suddenly the engine let out a little smoke again, sputtered, and then died completely, leaving us drifting. But, while my friend called his boater’s tow insurance for help, I was actually still feeling pretty grateful because I realized it could have been far worse with that engine dying in the middle of those open waters, when none of us had had any cell phone reception.

Nevertheless, my final piece of gratitude for the day actually came while my friend was still on the phone with his towing insurance company. After many boats had passed us by and did nothing more than ask if we were ok, a large boat from Florida pulled up and said they’d give us a tow themselves. Ten minutes later they dropped us off at the only marine gas station that was still opened, but for not much longer. There we learned we had simply just run out of gas.

So, in the end, once we were docked and headed home for the night, I truly had plenty to be grateful for on my first boating trip to Put-In-Bay. I was grateful for my friend who graciously treated my partner and I on our first boat trip to the island. I was grateful for that dockmaster who gave us a dock to park his boat at. I was grateful to the cart rental place that had kept my cart reserved well past my reservation time. I was grateful for all those fun activities I got to do during my four-hour stay on the island. I was grateful that the engine had died once we were back in a well-travelled channel. And I was grateful for those boaters who had ended up giving us a tow. All-in-all there was definitely much to be grateful for by the end of the day, especially to my Higher Power, who I felt truly was the hand behind it all…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson