Mistaking a Goldfish for a Life Jacket

A few weeks ago I said it would be really nice to bring the dinghy on an upcoming sailing trip down the river. We’d last visited there on Charles’s birthday when we ran out of gas and he had to tow us to shore by swimming with a rope. Here’s the video of Charles playing US TowBoat to get us back to safety.

Our gas outboard had been leaking fuel so we hadn’t used it in a while, i.e., no dinghy rides to shore. Charles has been eyeing electric outboards so last weekend we walked over West Marine and purchased a shiny new Torqeedo electric outboard with the power of not one but four horses under it’s petite plastic cover. No more gas cans, just charge it and go!

The day after it arrived we took a sunset cruise to test it out.


The river is pretty wide but surprisingly shallow outside of the channel. Charles asked me to let him know if I could see the bottom and we immediately noticed that we were floating over an underwater forest of sea plants. He quickly pulled up the outboard’s shaft and found a huge mass of dripping greenery wrapped around the prop. Once again, drama on the high seas and no pictures to prove it.

Even far from shore and at the base of a major interstate highway bridge, we were in the shallows and surrounded by plants on all sides. Literally up the river without a paddle and watching the sun set. Fortunately our little dinghy is also a sailboat, complete with a detachable centerboard that doubles as an oar when you haven’t purchased a proper set of oars yet.

Here’s where mistaking a goldfish for a life jacket comes in. Something bright orange caught my eye among the plants below us. Did I just see a giant goldfish? I saw it fleetingly again and pointed it out to Charles. Another fleeting sighting and he said it was a large piece of plastic. Life jacket? Broken buoy? It appeared again, this time still and hiding among the plants. Yes, it was definitely a giant goldfish. Now we know what happens when you flush your goldfish into the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

With our makeshift centerboard oar we put the creature of the deep behind us.  Safely out of the woods and heading back to the marina, we compared our old gas outboard with our shiny new electric one. Gas won’t tell you how many hours you can go at a particular speed or how many hours more or less you’ve got when you change speeds. There’s no cord to pull anymore and no gas cans to fill. Just press a button, read an LED screen and keep track of the charge. Storage is also a breeze with three clean, small and light pieces that easily stow in one of the extra cabins.

Next year our wish list includes a larger battery and a solar charger but for this season we’ll enjoy getting to shore and exploring the shorelines in small doses in between charges.


10 thoughts on “Mistaking a Goldfish for a Life Jacket

  1. If the battery is an old one, it can ‘leak charge’, as in, lose charge faster than it’s rated for. I’d pack an oar just in case. :p

    Looks like fun in any case, nice pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I won’t jinx you by wishing you luck LOL My family and I have been out on more than one excursion where our boat motor had sudden difficulties (decided to quit working for no apparent reason). Luckily my dad is a marine mechanic, so that makes it easier! I would love to have seen that goldfish that you mentioned, though. I can’t say I’ve ever seen one that big that wasn’t in an aquarium.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Lucky having a mechanic in the family! That can get you out of a lot of situations that would leave most people calling for a tow.

        Seeing the goldfish was so strange. We are very close to a large city and we don’t usually think there are going to be beautiful fish swimming around in the shallow water. It was so bright orange that I couldn’t not see it.
        It makes email wonder what else is swimming around in there just under the surface!

        Like

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