Saturday, August 1, 2020

A Big Hole in the Water into Which is Poured Money

In the summer of 2019, I acquired a new to me 16 foot Lund with a 30 hp Honda 4 stroke. This was of course a huge upgrade from my previous boat, a 14 foot “Portaboat” propelled by a 3.5 hp Nissan. What I soon came to find out about owning a big boat is that with it comes big problems. Now I am not saying that I don’t enjoy the new boat, but whenever more complexity is added to any situation, the higher the degree of chance that something will ultimately go wrong. 

Plan for the Worst

When I inherited this boat, I also inherited a sizeable trailer. For those unaccustomed to towing a long trailer with a heavy boat, this is not a task that should be entered into lightly. Backing up such a rig and navigating around town is enough to make a novice queasy. I attempted to address my many and varied worst case scenarios and in the end, determined that I needed a spare tire. I had after all seen through the years many a boat owner stranded on the side of the road, an unfortunate victim of the “flat tire”. 

Hope for the Best

It was weeks before I finally managed to get all of the boat’s critical parts operational but ultimately, the day came when I was prepared to take it out on its maiden voyage. I make sure I didn’t encounter any issues, that I couldn’t effectively handle, I even invited along two friends to make sure that if I need additional horsepower (help paddling home) I would be ready. Unfortunately, the boat didn’t even make it to the water before I encountered my first issue. Remember, my innate fear of towing a trailer. As my friends and I motored into the boat launch, I have to admit I was excited. In moments I would be enjoying a relaxing day of fishing, in my new boat with my good friends. In my brief few seconds of inattention, I neglected to properly negotiate the sharp turn into the landing and the trailer tire tapped the edge of a large granite boulder. After the large “bang”, the next sound I heard was the rapid high pitch squeal of air escaping through the tires sidewall. Thankfully, the day was saved due to my forethought at having purchased a spare, but the tire was a total loss. 

Get Back on that Horse

I determined that this little set back wasn’t going to ruin my excitement about being a new boat owner and through the course of the summer, my boating experiences were relatively free of drama. Sometimes you can’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff. 

Great Pond, Belgrade

Great Pond is the largest body of water in the famed Belgrade Chain of Lakes. For a new boat owner its grand size can be intimidating. On my first outing on the lake, however, all of these initial fears were dispelled. The boat launch located on Boat Way Lane off of Sahagian Road in Belgrade is fantastic. The launch has ample parking, a beautiful dock and a great place to launch a boat. The launch can get very busy during the summer but most of the traffic can be avoided if anglers get an early start. What also impressed me about Great Pond is that almost every single rock, submerged point and potential boating hazard is well labeled with buoys. As long as even a novice boater, new to the pond, navigates with caution, it would be very difficult to encounter issues. 

Three Mile Pond, Vassalboro

Three Mile Pond is another of my favorite drama free boating destinations. The Pond’s boat launch, located off Route 202 in South Vassalboro is well maintained, has a large concrete launch, ample parking and a sizeable dock. Though the pond’s hazards are not quite as well marked as Great Pond, as long as the lake is edging is navigated at slow speeds, boaters shouldn’t have any rocky encounters. The center of the lake has between 25-37 feet of water so if you feel the need to “open’r up”, go right ahead. 

Sheepscot Pond, Palermo

Sheepscot Pond in Palermo is an expansive (1,193 acre) pond situated among the rolling, wooded hills of southeastern Waldo County. A moderately developed lake (unusual for Central Maine!) it remains an attractive setting for anglers and boaters alike. A state-owned boat ramp, located off Rt. 3 on the lake's north shore, provides access for anglers and other recreational users. For the angler who believes that variety is the spice of life, they will find no better thrill than a day spent fishing Sheepscot Pond. On previous trips to the lake I managed to pull up 7 different species of fish including, salmon, largemouth bass, pickerel, white perch, yellow perch, lake trout and brook trout. According to the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the lake additionally contains, brown trout, smallmouth bass and even splake, which were originally introduced to the lake in 1993. While we were unsuccessful in catching any of these additional species, the possibility of going to a lake and catching 10 different species of fish is exciting!

Other Suggestions for New Boaters

Something that helped me immensely in increasing my confidence in navigating new bodies of water was a good quality depth finder. I also carry a lake/pond survey map (available through the website) of the bodies of water I am navigating. As long as I am always sure of my position, these simple maps can really take the guess work out of navigating unfamiliar bodies of water. 

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