Boating Home at Sunset

by Mary Mullaney
New York, USA

It was a much-needed vacation on beautiful Sacandaga Lake, in the town of Day, New York. Ralph and Margaret had generously allowed my friend Adele to invite three strangers to share their summer cottage, I among them.

Ralph and Margaret had to return to work the day after we arrived, but they welcomed us warmly. They treated us to BBQ, which we happily accepted, especially as Ralph was a chef by trade and the meal melted in our mouths.

After supper, they took us out on the lake in their powerboat to see the sunset. What an enchanting view! Depending on where Ralph headed the boat, we saw the sun behind or above the Adirondack Mountains. Because it was a weeknight, few people were enjoying the view and the evening’s calm from the water. We all agreed it was a lovely beginning for our vacation, but soon it was time to turn around and power back to their beach. We hadn’t traveled far before the engine’s hum cut out.

Our perfect evening had changed. Ralph was determined to get the engine to roar back to life, but no matter how many times he cranked that key, no matter how many endearing words he said, that engine was not going to respond.

No one panicked, and we soon unearthed the distress flag and found the flares and air horn. All was not lost! Now if only another boat would come by at this late hour, we could signal to it. We passed the time amiably, and soon sighted a passing boat. We signaled diligently and were relieved when it turned in our direction.

The kind captain of that vessel had a full load of passengers fatigued from a long day and a nearly empty gas tank. Despite their desire to speed to port, they offered to tow us to their dock. They would let Ralph keep his boat there until he could have a mechanic look at it the next day.

The darkness as we were towed was not filled with the chill we all imagined while stranded, but with a warmth that could only be supplied by people who genuinely cared and did something about it. One man on the boat towing us offered to taxi all six of us back to our cottage in his van. It was a 30-minute drive one way to the other side of the lake.

The remaining days of our vacation (thankfully) weren’t nearly as dramatic, but we were surrounded by a warm and compassionate community that was obviously built on mutual respect. Thank you, Ralph and Margaret, for opening the door to that caring community to us, and making us feel even more “at home” than in our own communities.

Originally published as HeroicStories #602 on Mar 25, 2005

16 thoughts on “Boating Home at Sunset”

  1. Are you going to change the way the stories are presented???, I dont want to hear a vocal rendition, nor have to click on an arrow to further read, and then taken to a big panel on the left side, that does not continue, but repeats the last several words.

    If so ,cancel my continued reading of the site.

  2. Just so you are aware – the email of this story aptly cut out after “We hadn’t traveled far before the engine’s hum cut out.”

    But I clicked on the podcast : play in new window and enjoyed the full story.

    As I’m from the UK I also googled images of the mountains – never knew that such a large park was only some 4.5 hours from NY.

  3. about your resend. Well, the story was compelling enough (aren’t they all) that I clicked on the podcast version, so I could learn the end of the story.

    Your Podcasts are okay but, they sound very much like books-on-tape. They are okay if you are doing something else but, I can read much faster than the podcast reads so, I’ll stick with the written edition.

    Thank you for the effort and opportunity to try the podcasts.

    feeling like an old geezer @ 48.

  4. Gee whiz, it wasn’t difficult to realize there was something amiss, Leo. It took just one more click to get the full story. Grumpy Mondays can affect some people and ruin their outlooks even more. Too bad, misses the whole point of the effort of this site. Try and see the positives and not play up the negatives. Thanks for all you do.

  5. I’m trying not to be in a “complaining” frame of mind. It’s just this story was the least “heroic” I’ve ever read on “Heroic Stories”. A group on the lake had a spot of bother that ended when some friendly people had a moment of inconvenience by giving them a hand.

    Next: It had been too long since I’d visited my favourite book store. To my dismay, it was closed and empty. A passerby told me they had recently moved location a block east. I thanked him. He nodded. I went to the bookstore after all!

    Sorry, I am complaining now. I’ll stop. One flat note doesn’t ruin the symphony. Keep up the good work!

  6. Hey The glitch in this one caused me to listen to the podcast for first time. Glad I did and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. Take care and thanks for doing all you do to send these to us for Free.
    From reading some of the comments I don’t think everyone gets the free part much less all the behind the scenes work you do to bring them. I am also guessing it’s not free for you to do this either. I for one appreciate what you are doing and a big old THANK YOU from me.

  7. No cellphone? No radio? No satellite phone? No apparent preparation for the far too common situation of the motor failing? Had inclement weather rolled in or the weather turned cold, or other issue complicated the situation, this might well have ended badly.

    As an ex-Coastguardsman I sometimes saw the sad consequences of dopey behavior like that described.

  8. Apologies accepted Leo! In our high tech world technical glitches are a fact of life but your resent was the next message in my inbox so no real problem. BTW as I have commented before I enjoy the podcasts even if I do have to go to the web site to get them. If at all possible please keep them up. I also disagree that this was the least heroic story. In our modern world far to many people refuse to go out of their way for someone else.

  9. David Jackson, your comments made me go back to look for the original publication date of this story: 2005. Hmmm… was there any indication of WHEN this actually took place? No. So it’s possible that it took place prior to cell phones/sat phones being common place. However, a look at the location of the lake – and the lack of any town close by makes me question the location cell phone towers around the lake. After living in the mountainous area of southern Kentucky and a rural area of northern Michigan for the past 9 years, I have experienced calls not being possible for lack of signal – or being dropped for getting out of range of a tower. Thankfully for the residents of both area, more towers have been (and still are being) constructed. As for the radio – that is a good miss on your part; that lack didn’t dawn on me, even as I grew up in an area where a radio would have helped the distressed sailors be rescued a lot sooner. I would have thought that the radio would be part of the mandatory list of what safety equipment must be on the boat (along with flares, air horn, life jackets…)

  10. By some of the comments bemoaning the temporary tech glitch and the severity of impact on said commenters lives, I can see there is indeed a strong need for the sharing of these stories- perhaps now more than ever.

    Look for the good in the world, people. Minor inconveniences happen. Roll with it, and make the world a better place for everyone. We’re all in this together.


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