Recently we hosted, with Stardust Marina, an On the Water Boat Show. It was a great success but this isn't about the show really. It's about calm nerves, lots of praying and luck.
One of our dealers asked me to help tow one of the boats to the show, a beautiful black Axis A20. Now this boat only weighs in at 3500 but that's not including the trailer. Anyway, I picked the boat up Friday morning and drove it to Stardust Marina. Not one single problem and people were looking at the boat as I drove by. I felt pretty good towing the black beauty and she track perfectly. NOTE: I drive a Ford Expedition EL (Extra Long) two wheel drive.
Then the first concern, as anyone who knows Stardust the driveway is pretty steep, and that's an understatement. As I shifted into low I made my way down the very long winding driveway to the parking lot and ramp. When I got there you could smell the brakes and transmission, my truck didn't like what it had just done. In fact I shut it down and let it rest and cool off before I even attempted to back the boat into the water. One reason is with the brakes hot they would have warped quickly. So I took care of other task for the boat show.
The boat show on Saturday was a great success and all the dealers and brokers seemed to be happy with the traffic and Stardust saw a uptick in sales both for the restaurant and gas dock. It was a win win for all. Then shortly after seven the rains came, hard and fast. Now the guys at Sunny allowed me to take the boat out on Sunday and said just bring it back Monday morning. Great!!! I can use a boat and enjoy some stress free time. So we covered the boat, leaving it tied up at the marina and went home.
So Sunday we took the boat out with some friends and enjoyed the afternoon and just as a storm came in we got back to the restaurant for some dinner and waited out the rain. It didn't last long and we took advantage of the break to get the boat loaded, wiped down and ready to travel home. And that is when the problems started.
There wasn't anyone around as Amy and I started up the driveway, the very wet, steep driveway. As we hit just over the halfway mark that's when my tires started to spin. I already had it in low but that didn't seem to help. I stopped the truck with this $80,000 boat attached to me, that wasn't mine, and thought I have no choice but to back down this wet, steep driveway. Oh, and pray I could control it.
I had Amy get out and run behind the rig and make sure no one was coming up the driveway. Then I very slowly eased off the brakes and let gravity take me down the hill. I moved slowly and didn't make any sudden moves, and thank God I listened to all those lessons about backing up. It worked and I was able to back this rig down the wet slippery driveway. I turned the whole thing around in a street, that I just found out went through a neighborhood and we were able to proceed forward down the driveway. Once there I put it in park and just sat there.
I then saw a place I could park it and thought, surely I can make that without a problem. Nope! to wet and too much of a grade and I had to do it all over again. Not as long but right in front of the sidewalk and parked cars. At that point all I want was the boat unhooked from my car. Well we did park it and unhook and made it up the driveway and home. Amy was shaken and I was too but relieved that it was over.
Monday I was able to pick the boat up and with dry pavement and turning on the street that takes you through the neighborhood that I had just found out about, I got the boat back to Sunny Marine safe and sound.
So what did I learn? First off when you look at your back tires and think, they're getting slick I should replace them, do it. Don't wait until you have a $80,000 boat attached to your truck. Second, if I'm at Stardust and it's raining don't take the boat home, leave it. Third, if I'm going to do this again I need a more powerful truck. But the most important lesson I learned didn't come from this but from years of backing trailers up and listening to that little voice in my head that said, "slow and steady and can will do this".
Sidenote: Thank you to Zac and Sunny Marine for a wonder Sunday afternoon on a beautiful boat.