Any old port in a time of storm

G. Sam Piatt - PDT Outdoors Columnist

The wind has never been my friend. If I’m working the shoreline with the trolling motor, the wind rises up in my face. If I turn around to go with the wind, the wind changes direction.

It isn’t always just trying to pull some whimsical joke on me. Sometimes it gets devilishly serious and threatening.

Lake Erie has tried to kill me twice. But, as you can see, I survived.

Much of Lake Erie is shallow for such a big lake. The entire Western Basin in Ohio waters averages only about 35 feet deep. High winds can quickly bring up six-foot waves with their tops spilling over into whitecaps. Sometimes if you’re out there six or seven miles and a sudden storm hits you can take refuge on the leeward side of the islands.

But when this one struck we were about halfway between our launching point and South Bass, the nearest island.

It’s a necessity to carry a radio tuned into the NAOH weather station. If there’s a storm approaching, head for the ramp and take out.


We didn’t have a radio. We were catching fish and not keeping an eye on the western sky. An old sailor like me should have seen it coming.

There were five of us in my old blue boat – my two sons, Kelly and Kendall, a grandson, Travelin’ Travis, and my son-in-law, Dwight Cole.

We were making a drift in a group of about a dozen boats. We were catching walleye with frequency when we noticed boats, one after the other, powering up and heading for shore. We almost waited too late to head that way ourselves.

We were being tossed about by whitecaps and swells as I cranked up the 150 horse Mercury outboard. I opened the throttle. Everybody was holding onto their seats or standing to hang on to the dash.

We were taking an awful pounding as the old boat plowed through some waves and bounced off the crest of others. The prop was out of the water at times as we rode down the slope of mountainous swells.

By the time we reached our launch site in Catawba Island State Park, waves were breaking over the end of the fishing pier and directly onto the double launching ramp. At least a dozen boats, their operators, like me, in a panic, were hoping to take out as soon as possible.

Kelley managed to leap from the bow of the boat onto the pier and make his way up to the parking lot to get our truck and trailer in line for takeout.


A wave washed the bow of out boat up onto the edge of the pier, where we hung suspended for a moment. Travis, fear written all over his face, came tumbling out of the bow. Someone caught him before he would have crashed into the stern or the outboard motor.

Trailering a boat out in those waves seemed next to impossible. Some boats attempting it were being washed over their trailers and into the tailgates of pickups.

Operators were circling their crafts, marking time while narrowly avoiding crashing into each other.

What saved us from ruin was a sheltered and very exclusive yacht club dock. I pulled in the gate and into calm water. We found a spot to tie to the dock. I cut the motor and we proceeded to wait out the storm.

Would you believe one of the yacht owners, or perhaps the manager of the place, came rushing toward us with a scowl on his face and ordered us to leave?

Hah! Call the law, big boy.

You know what they say: Any old port in a time of storm.


A lesson to be learned from one typing the wrong email address!

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email, expecting condolences from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife

Subject: I’ve Arrived

Date: May 16, 2004

I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P.S. Sure is freaking hot down here!

G. Sam Piatt

PDT Outdoors Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at (606) 932-3619 or [email protected]

Reach G. SAM PIATT at (606) 932-3619 or [email protected]