Wendy Walsh - Kamikaze Houseboating
Story telling session with Gail Williams, Steve Shapiro, Wendy Walsh, Alan Tabor, Leslie Harder, Scott Weaver, Victor and Marilyn Ichioka on 7/24/2016
Wendy Walsh: This goes back to when Al was first meeting my family.
Alan Tabor: And I maybe met them once.
Wendy: ...met them once before. Absolutely.
So my parents get this great idea that we're going to go on a houseboat trip. We've never done this before. I know. And keep that in mind. So Al and I go down to the delta, go over to the delta and we meet my family...my sister and my parents...and we meet them at this shack on the delta. We get out of the car and we go up to this shack and we think, is this actually ok, it looks a bit iffy, I don't know. But we see the houseboat out there and we go in.
We go to the desk and there is the proprietor. It's about noon and he is drunk. He is just drunk. So we ask to ourselves Okaay, we are all out there and we decide to move forward and he says to my father, politely, OK let's go take it on a test run. So dad gives us this look like OK I'll take one for the group.
Alan: They have a little marina.
Wendy: And so he and dad are on the deck and getting on and the guy is saying to dad, "OK its really easy. There is the go, there is the stop and there is the don't move the barbecue." That'll all. That's the big three. OK so. So dad comes back and when they motor back in and dad's looking like OK we've got this. This is actually OK.
So we all get on the houseboat and we wave goodbye to the drunk you know, who is kind of waving in the breeze and we take off and we're feeling kind of smug cause there we are, its a gorgeous day, and we've got a little captain ideas on and we're heading out and we're out there about an hour and we're all congratulating ourselves about what a great time and the weather's perfect and everything is great and we are on the delta and we see this lovely arch and everything is very picturesque and we go right underneath the arch and knock the antenna right off the houseboat.
And we're like Oh my God we have no idea. OK so luckily when the antenna comes off, we look at it and even though it looks broken, its actually got some mechanism cause we're not the only people that do this kind of thing.
Alan: There are a couple of antennas with at the suction cups.
Wendy: So apparently they were prepared for people like us. So we fix it back out, however we think we've got it and we take off and we have a great rest of the day you know and into sunset and we have dinner on the delta and were having a great time and now it's getting a little darker and we decide where we're going to stay for the night. And so the first anchor goes out and the back anchor goes out and we're congratulating ourselves on our boat-worthy abilities. And my sister and my parents are all inside in there all cabins and Al and I go upstairs to the top of the houseboat and we're seeing the stars, and we've got our sleeping bags and its just fabulous and we're all excited and we so we go to sleep.
And sometime around 3-4 o'clock I wake up cause I'm hearing this bonk bonk bonk and I look over and Al's kind of waking up too and we look out and we are now in the middle of the river. One of the anchors has come out and the other has kind of drifted and then gotten stuck in the middle of the river and we are now pivoting in a 360. Going around, just probably looking to see who we could hit, what we could do and the boat just went wooooaah..
Alan: And we are possibly in the shipping channel.
Wendy: Yes. And as Alan and I are like, "Whaaaaat!" Ok we call down you know, we're in big trouble you know and we wake everybody up and we go down there and we're all so sleepy and we are you know, sort of groggy and we go to the end of the boat where the one remaining anchor's actually fixed and we start to kind of problem solve what's going on and suddenly it becomes obvious that not only can we not pull the anchor up, but that the other anchor has now wrapped itself completely around the motor. Multiple times.
And we're in this stupor, sort of, and suddenly Al, Al just...we're all silent for the moment and and Al just pops up and he goes I'm going to dive in and I'm gonna unwrap the anchor and he takes off his, his T shirt and he dives in and my family...this is my new boyfriend right...and my family looks at me and goes, "Yes, is that a keeper! He's a keeper." They're thrilled about this guy. So Al just dived down in the dark and its 4 o'clock in the morning and he unwinds this and he comes back up and they're looking at him like he's our hero. He's you know, they're now really in his palm now. Its fabulous. So my dad now decides we're going to do this again and so he starts motoring into the reeds and he's going to, now he's going to do it right you know.
Alan: So what they told us to do is you get up the Tules, throw the anchor out into them and then drop one behind which we had tried once. And then the tide had come in and held pulled them off.
Wendy: So now there we are and so dad is trying to perfect his Tule throwing anchor action, and so he's got it and everytime he does it, because we found ourselves out in the middle of the delta, in the middle of the night, you know, we're not completely convinced that we have this technique down. And so he'll throw it out there, and he'll start trying to work it in and suddenly the anchor is back and we haven't done it. OK. So this goes on for like 25 minutes. The throwing, the trying, the moving, the deciding, then pulling back out and doing it again. OK.
So finally its done. And everybody's is so tired and my sister, my sister is so tired that she's actually out of it, she had a short haircut at the time and as she is watching my dad do this, she's getting more and more frantic about wanting to go to sleep. And so her hair is starting to stick up straight and she's like "I can't take it at all". You know its like the thirty-teenth time that he's throwing this out. And so finally he says he's done and my sister goes OK.
So she turns around, we all turn around and we're walking back to where we're gonna sleep and apparently dad has a thought again. He is not really as hooked as he thinks and so we're already moving back and he just tries to pull it up one more time to try it again and as he pulls it up, a wave takes up right back out to the delta again. And I look at my sister who actually looks like she's gonna kill him. She is going to throw him out into the water and my mother is like holding her back you know, its just really really shocking. And so there is this another 25 minutes of trying to get it. Finally we get it done. So sometime just before 5 we all go back to sleep.
So we wake up in the morning and we're all a little tired you know, we're all a little bit up but we're optimists by nature and it's a beautiful day you know and we're on our trip and we survived and the anchors held. So we started to feel good about it again. So so the day begins and it starts and we're doing a little bit of swimming and we're out by the back end where you know, you've got your legs out and you're telling stories and joking around and someone's swimming at a time and everything's good. OK.
So I've left my whole family is out on the edge at the end of the boat and it's about 11.30 in the morning or so and I get up and I'm going to go to the bathroom. So I get up and walk through the boat to the little tiny bathroom and I use the bathroom and I'm done and I get up and I'm walking back in the hallway and this is what I see. As I'm walking I can see all my happy little family out there and they're all loving Al, you know, How's our guy and they're all happy chatting and I'm walk into the kitchen, the kitchen's on fire!
So my mother has turned.. This is all true by the way... All of this is true.. She has a pot of coffee on and the paper towels have caught behind the, the coffee pot onto the wood or whatever, and starting to lick up the deal and so I walk in and I yell FIRE!! FIRE!! And everybody's turning around and go What?!! what?? OK so we're all running around and we're all stopping the whole thing and you know, I mean we caught it quite early, the fire was only about this big when I got there.
Alan: Only the striped paper towels
Wendy: Only the paper towels and maybe the curtains were a little darker than they used to be. So anyway.
Steve: The drunk guy didn't notice.
Wendy: So yea. So we regroup and we push on and we're going down the delta and we decided to have dinner at this western town on the delta. And it's like a replica of the old west and stuff and we've read about it in our little guide books and stuff. We're all, you know its been a couple of hours since the fire and so we're actually feeling better that nothing's happen. So we pull up and its actually, there is this little tiny dock and then there's all these old guys that are in their lawn chairs. And they're sort of hanging out looking at the delta like almost like they're looking at the show, you know. They're just out there looking at a show and we dock and we secure all our ropes and the different things and the loops and everything we got and then we take off and we go walking down the town.
And the town is very charming and the town has a lot of western memorabilia and we have a great meal and so its all behind us and we've all regrouped and felt great about it. And so we come back and its near sunset so its wonderful. Its beautiful weather and the day's great. And we are very chatty with the guys in the whatever and we're smiling and we're waving and we're all piling to the houseboat and we take off and we undo and we take off and we go out and as we're leaving we wave goodbye to all the guys and then we hear this [Weird noise!]. And we have left one rope. We have left one rope around the railing and as we watch, this railing goes like this <Woooo> and the railing is now about 12 inches down in a V-position, and all the guys are like this, "We're waiting and we saw it coming, you know"].
Steve: We weren't going to say anything. We were here waiting all day long for nothing.
Wendy: Yea yea. That's right. This is a guaranteed show and so we had to pull back and they're not saying anything, they're just smiling you know. And we have to undo the whole thing and you know slink around. No waves this time right and so we just leave. We leave. So now the sun is enough that we start talking about tonight's put in and where we gonna put in and what we going to do. And my sister and I have this tide book that we've been reading and my dad is, my dad knows one thing for sure. He is not going to have happen what happened the night before happen again. So he picks the sand bar that he is going to go and position the boat on because that way you are not messing with this anchor stuff. So now
Alan: So we are now actually into the channel of the delta. So this is like the sand along the side of the delta
Wendy: And he sees this little tiny beach like thing and he decides on the edge of it he is going to run the boat to this thing and Terri and I keep saying, you know, its high tide right now and I think the book is saying that tomorrow is going to be better and dad is totally convinced that he's got this down. It's like "Blah Blah" he doesn't want to hear anything about it, he's kept this down and Al who is the new boyfriend is not going to say anything. Because don't forget if this goes wrong, who's jumping in the water again and he's not wanting that to have to happen again. So it just happens. So we are there.
So that night goes by and its uneventful and we all wake up in the morning and its beautiful again and we get out there and we have breakfast and its so lovely and there is a couple of boats oh you know, 150 yards away that way and across there and stuff and so now we have to decide what time we're gonna leave because we have to make enough time to get back down the delta to turn in the boat at the right time. So dad says, "OK somebody get to end of the boat and I'm going to hit the gas and you have to look right and left and tell me when I can go right." So he says "OK" and we look and we say "OK hit it!" and it goes round round round nothing. We have a unmeasurably how many ton boat marooned on a sandbar and so we are not moving at all.
So dad though says "OK" he is not daunted by this and he says "OK I want everybody to get to the back of the boat and I want you to stay on the back of the boat so that we can do it." So he gets all of us, my sister, my mother Al and I to the back of the boat and we're standing there and he does OK tell me, look right, look left tell me when and so we say OK and it goes <Weird sounds> nothing. We're not moving an inch. So then he says I think we need to move the barbecue.
Alan: Cause that's the only thing that has any weight. We can roll that towards to the other.
Wendy: So now we have now moved the barbecue. Yes it rolls.
Steve: There are only three rules! Three things you have to remember.
Wendy: So now you can imagine. There are people having brunch on either side of us. Now there is all of us crammed in this little tiny space with the barbecue right there ok and dad goes. OK look right, look left we do <Rou Rou noises> Nothing. Nothing moves.
Then there is this pause. OK I want you all to jump. You can imagine if you were the brunchers. You're just watching this one by one each of these goofy things. And now all of us are at the end of the boat yelling when, hopping, we're all hopping. Nothing is happening and suddenly we hear this voice from the back and he is really angry. And he goes, "You guys, you need to hop in unison!!" True story. So there we are, all of us, with these people who are watching us, all: "1, 2 or 3, hop, hop."
Alan: And we are all cracking up. We can hardly stand cause we are laughing so hard.
Wendy: And you know. It has moved nothing. Nothing. We're not getting a thing from this...so the absurdity of hopping in unison has occurred all of us and dad's holding on to this kernel you know of this idea and he's not going to let it go. So we've hopped around in unison and cramped around this barbecue and people think we are absolutely thick.
So then we all go back and we decide we have to get off the boat. So we get off the boat so there are fewer people on the boat and maybe the boat will be lighter in my dad's opinion. And so dad's there and he says I want all of you to push. This is a big big boat. And so what I loved about this is the optimism. Each time he would say, "OK. Are you ready?" As if something's going to happen right. OK. So he's there at the thing and he says OK push and we're like <Grr noise>. Four of us and nothing is happening of course. Not a thing is happening.
Alan: Actually the tide had started coming in and what we discovered is that if we can push the boat like this (see-saw movement), it can get a little bit off. So we made a tiny bit of progress.
Wendy: So not yet at this point though. What happens is, when we're pushing and nothing is really happening, suddenly a boat comes around the corner cause we're on a bend and comes quite close to us and the wake moves the boat and dad feels the wake for the first time and he's like Yes we've got some movement. So not he's got an idea. Now here's the idea. So now he says now I want you all to push and this is what's gonna happen. Next time a boat comes by, there's gonna be a wake and you're gonna push. You're gonna push as hard as you can.
So. Dad wades out into the Delta. He's into the water now. So you got to know what my dad looks like. My dad looks like a Disney cartoon character. He 's got really fuzzy hair and he's got a big bald spot and he's got this Irish face with this really big tummy and little tiny legs. So he's really comical by sight anyway. OK and what happens is that a boat would come by and as boat gets closer by dad will start screaming, "Waves! Waves! Waves!" And boat after boat look at him and freak out and immediately go the other side of the river. Because they think a lunatic is up there on the delta screaming "Waves" like this so. But what we did learn from this is that we start to notice that even with on the other side there's enough width that we're actually making some progress and we realise that we can't push this but what we can do it pivot. And we can move 2 or 3 inches by going this way and so. And by the way, the tide is starting to come back in and so it takes us about another hour.
Alan: But we can't wait just for the tide because we won't get back to the, we won't get the boat back. And we have to get it under a bridge before the tide gets too high or we'd be stuck another day or at least another cycle of the tide on this side of the bridge.
Wendy: So we're doing this. But my dad decides that the fastest thing to do and the best thing to do because we're getting some small change is that he's going to change places with Alan and Alan at that time in our late 20s was very this, very thin. He's filled out up here like his shoulder's and the whole thing. He's much more muscular. But he weighed like 135 pounds or something at one point. So dad decides that he's going to swap out with Al and he's going to get up there and we're all going to push ok. But now this is early in so we don't have our technique down. So there's Al, and my whole family is not reticent by nature and so all 4 of us are yelling different things to Al at the same time. It looks like a Whackamole thing. Like someone would pop up his head and yell...
Alan: All of them will be pushing and at random one of them will stick their head up and yell something like "Right!", "Left!"
Wendy: Contradictory to the last person that did this.
Alan: Right, they're all different. Faster! Slower! Right! Left! you know.
Wendy: So finally Al who by the way has been saintly up until this time is looking at all these faces screaming contradictory things and finally he takes a look at all of this and he goes "Ahhhhh!" And as he does this, my sister who is next to me goes "Ahhh." My sister says I think we pushed him over the edge.
This is the new boyfriend. We have broken the new boyfriend apparently. OK.
So finally after all the time of doing this, we finally, we finally. It finally works and we get all back on the boat and we take off and we go for another 3 hours or so and nothing happens wrong. Nothing happens wrong. And so my dad, every hour that's going, he's getting a little less agitated about what's happened on this whole trip all the time and he's feeling a little more like he is mastering the boat situation. So finally we get in there and we're all kind of relieved that we are back in the time that when we thought just 3 hours that we were cooked. Our goose was cooked. So now we're coming back into the marina area ok. And dad is now feeling like he is so much more the captain that he used to be that he decides as we're pulling in, that he is going to, he is going to throw it into reverse, cut the engine and glide into the dock, which he does but It Does Not Stop. So he actually crashes the boat.
Alan: He forgot the the part about when he turned off the engine the backing up part stops. So we see these guys and they see us coming in and they're coming now and they're waving us in to tie up and the boat and they go "Oooops".
Wendy: And we're not stopping. We're just coming on in and we hear these horrible sounds <Wow wow sounds> as we crash right into the dock. Ok so. So the thing is that we're really feeling like Oh my God, Oh my God they're going to be so pissed off at us, whatever. And we look at their faces and after the boat is stopped this guy, the owner, looks quite beatific. I mean he is just fine. And he looks over and don't forget, he looks over to the V-side of the rail and he doesn't say anything. He just calmly turns, goes back into the shack. And the rest of us are like <Whaa Whaa sounds> and he turns around and he brings out like a 6 foot 5 Samoan. This huge man, like a WWF guy just follows him, silently walks to the boat, just steps up onto the boat, puts his hands on the rail and goes <Roooo sound>. Back up totally and it looks totally normal again. It looks totally normal again.
And the guy says to us, everything's fine, don't worry about it. This happens.
Where is the barbecue? <Laughing!!>.
And we're like.. We have forgotten to put the barbecue back in the position. So you know, this kind of like the 'sigh'. We just put the barbecue back into position and he doesn't freak out or do anything to us and he just says goodbye to us. He doesn't even seem even particularly pissed.
And we all go back in our cars and we're kind of like in a daze that we were actually all allowed to leave you know. And as I'm driving away I'm thinking wow. Now I know why he was drunk!
Apparently we are not the only people that do this kind of thing and this is part of the business model. That you have to be drunk to deal with the kind of stuff that we packed into a 2 night deal. Every single thing that I said actually happened.
Victor: So what is like being the new boyfriend now that seeing the behaviour of this family.
Alan: It was a series of mis-adventures none of which you know...(Steve: nobody was hurt) nobody was hurt... nobody was injured, the boat didn't sink, we had fun.
I'm thinking to myself, Oh my God, what's going to happen and Al's like, "Oh, that was fun! Everybody's kind of a character in your family right."
Victor: And everybody had a story to tell.
Alan: our friend Catch said, you know, one of the main rules is: Whatever happens, come back with a story.
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