The Worst Gondola Ride Ever, and Bad News Fireworks.

It’s been a very long weekend. I forgot momentarily that it was Memorial Day, and that that meant Matt would have a 4 day weekend. So often, he’ll have a 3 or 4 day weekend lined up and work will just veto it. So when he actually gets one anymore, I’m always surprised.

Friday evening I was at work, and on track to get done pretty early around 8pm. I stepped into the office in the midst of closing my last tables and doing side work to text Matt that I was getting done earlier than expected. He replied to get my butt home ASAP. I wrapped everything up at work as quickly as possible, and hurried home.

I found Matt’s buddy was there. We hadn’t seen him since we still had to drill through 18 inches of ice to reach the fish. Turns out, the three of us were headed out to bowfish that night. Matt had even gotten my gear out for me. His buddy (M) was telling us about going out on Waubesa a night or two before, how incredibly clear the water was, and how many fish they’d seen.

We arrived at the launch, and got up to where M had seen lots of fish. Last summer, we’d always seen lots of carp in this same area. For most of the ride over to the spot, I was steering the front trolling motor and trying to think how I would write this very post. Would I describe the familiar weight of my bow in my hand? How long it had been since I’d nocked the heavy bowfishing arrow? Maybe my camera would cooperate and I would get a decent shot of some of the underwater critters we always see.

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It soon became apparent that not only was my camera not working with me, but neither were the fish. We saw maybe 5 carp. Most of them in 8-10 feet of water. When we normally see about 10-20 carp in less than four feet. Part of the challenge of bowfishing is correcting for refraction. You aim below the fish because of the way the water bends the light. Once you get deeper than about 4 feet of water, it becomes extremely difficult to make a successful shot, due to refraction as well as drag on the arrow and line traveling through the water.

We saw 5 other bowfishing boats out on the water that night. A new high from usually seeing one or two besides ourselves. But it was getting chilly. It had been relatively warm during the day on Friday, but a slow front was moving through, ready to cast steely clouds, chilly temps, and steady rain over the entire weekend. The temperature was dropping, and we were getting pretty cold, in addition to not even seeing anything to really shoot at. But that was just the beginning of our troubles.

As we turned back for the launch, the trolling motors were losing power noticeably quickly. Matt began trying to start the gas motor. The trolling motors were soon providing absolutely zero thrust. Luckily, we were close to shore and there were plenty of deadfalls in the water. M and I each broke off a long branch and began to push the boat along, all while Matt stubbornly tried to start the motor. The motor never did start; the sparkplugs were probably a bit gummy from our last boat outing, when we mixed the fuel too rich. We gradually made our way to the launch, and laughed at this bit of silly bad luck. It could have been worse, we figured. M quipped about the element of surprise Matt always brings, considering he flies by the seat of his pants. I joked that it was the crummiest gondola ride I’d ever experienced. We got the boat back on the trailer and headed home.

When we were about 4 miles from the house, though, I heard an odd sound. I pointed it out to the guys. It was coming from the driver’s side trailer tire. The one we’d had issues with, and which we’d recently replaced. They shrugged it off. We’d gotten it fixed really well this time. They barely finished saying “We’ll just try and get it home, then look at it”, when all of a sudden, our clunky little boat trailer was emitting a literal rooster tail of fiery yellow sparks taller than the Durango pulling it. A police officer going in the opposite direction didn’t even stop to pull a U-turn. Luckily, it was roughly 1am, and there were no other vehicles on the road. In astonished disbelief, we pulled over and clambered out of the truck to see what the hell had happened.


There are still flecks of previously-melted rubber stuck to that side of the boat.

It had blown out so quickly, Matt never even felt it pull. The rubber had wrapped around the suspension so tightly that it locked up the rim, grinding one side flat on the asphalt. I joked about the crappy gondola ride being followed by bad-news fireworks. We threw our hands up in total resignation, and went home. We called a flatbed the next morning.

It’s still sitting in our driveway on a jack. The tire and rim I ordered from Discount Tire doesn’t fit it. The circumference of our lug studs is too small for the holes in the rim. The trailer is apparently a really old one. As of now, the plan is to completely replace the hubs on the trailer with a more common pattern, and then get tires for it.  We’ll be ordering the parts for it later on this afternoon.


8 thoughts on “The Worst Gondola Ride Ever, and Bad News Fireworks.

  1. Wow, that’s an eventful night! They say things always happen in threes, so I hope the poor fishing, issues with the motor, and the tire, all qualify as your three and you won’t have to worry about bad luck for a while.

    • Good grief, I hope so. This would also be the third flat we’ve gotten with this trailer. Fingers crossed we don’t have any more flats this year.

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