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Friday, July 26, 2019

When Pop Got Angry

When Pop Got Angry

I can’t remember when I got my driver’s license.  Such a momentous occasion you would think I would remember.   I guess that is a real sign of old age.  I was either 16 or 17. 

We owned a 16-foot outboard, with a Merc 30 engine.  It was not kept in the water; we would drop it in the water from a public ramp when we took it to fish or water ski.  

It was not much over a few months after I got my drivers license that I was allowed to tow that boat an hour and a half on the Parkway to the shore where my friends and I would ski and or fish.

Towing a small boat is no easy feat, at least not for a 16/17-year-old kid.  Towing it was hard enough, but backing that thing down a ramp was very tricky.  I learned pretty fast how to follow the trailer and I never got it jackknifed or had any accidents towing that boat.

When I think back, it is hard to believe that my Pop’s would have allowed an inexperienced driver to tow that boat.  I don’t remember him giving me any lessons other than watching him tow and back up the boat for years.

Anyway, Pop was a big believer in let them go, let them learn, and hope for the best.

One time he was sorry for trusting me, though to this day I still don’t think it was my fault.

Apparently in those days, the trailer wheel bearings were not very water protected.  When you drop the boat in the water from the ramp, the trailer wheels go under the water.  

Hot bearings from an hour drive dropped into cold water apparently creates a suction that draws water into the bearings.

Water mixed with bearing grease does not go very well.

When towing, the grease gets gunked up, the bearings heat up and then cease up.

This happened to our trailer wheels.  It happened when Pop was towing the boat, by himself, on the Garden State Parkway, late at night, in a wicked rain storm.  The wheels froze up and damn dear dragged him off the road in a big pile up.

Pop was not happy.

In the night, in the rain, he jacked the trailer up, removed the wheels, and returned the next day with new bearings and fresh grease.  He was really not happy.

When he returned home, I was instructed in a most animated and disagreeable fashion on the importance of re-greasing the bearings after every trip.  

Did I mention that he was very angry, and wet, and I think he may have had a bad cold?

I am positive I was never warned of the water in the bearing problem before this incident.  I did not offer that excuse to my Pop.

From that time, after every boat trip, I removed the wheels, removed the bearings, cleaned them in gas, dried them out, replaced them and repacked them in fresh grease.

I suspect today that technology has solved the problem and the bearings are water tight.


If I owned a boat and trailer today, I would remove the wheels, remove the bearings, clean them in gas, dry them out, replace them and repack them in fresh grease after every time I put the boat into the water.

Did I mention my Pop’s was really angry?


  1. Oh boy howdy. Of course he was angry. even if it was your dad messing up or you, he would be angry.

  2. I think you were railroaded! Sure, it was your "fault," perhaps. IF you were the last one to launch before the seizure. Even though you didn't know that not-re-greasing the bearings was frowned upon.

    I had no idea that was necessary! As a kid, I was no stranger to boat launchings. I never saw my dad or grandpa mess with the bearings, or make mention of it. I guess it's kind of like not thinking about how the sausage is made. You just take it for granted.

  3. When we lived in the San Diego area and walked the dog of ours, occasionally it was by a boat launch area. We had fun watching some novices try to maneuver the trailer to get the boat either in or out of the water. And those were people who were older than 16 or 17 with lots of "regular" driving other than belts. I think I like your dad's attitude about about letting you guys go and hoping for the best. Perhaps though it did cause him to have the occasional angry incidents like this.

    I was just over 16 when I got my license. In Montana they could get their licenses at 15. While I thought it was too young, I welcomed the freedom it gave me when son got his at 15 and I had more time in my days rather than taking him to school etc. I personally think now that I know better and recent events I may blog about, it might be wise to not allow kids to get their licenses until after 18 years old.


  4. I think if the bearings are now watertight, you may not be able to get at them to dry and regrease, there is no reason for it anyway.
    I remember only one time when my dad was angry and that was an argument with my brother who wasn't his natural son anyway.

  5. so true that from far floating boat look not just fascinating but very easy to tow :)

    i think it was not your fault , though i laughed spontaneously when i read "it was not my fault"

    you were not told already ,may you pop though your observation will be enough

    thinking about anger of your pop makes me shaky as it reminds me something bit same

  6. I'm sure he loved you though.

    God bless.

  7. Nothing better than a family story..Add a boat and a lesson..the story just got ten times better!

  8. I've gotten mad plenry of times for things my kids did because they didn't know any better. Understandable.

  9. It must have been an unusual experience for you to have him so very stuck with you...for life.

  10. He might have been mad at himself as much as you for not showing you how to do it each time. I can see why that lesson stuck.

  11. You are right, it was not your fault. If he'd taught you about it, then yes. Since he did not, you are off the hook!

  12. I’m not sure if the technology has changed or not. I see boat trailers by the roadside often.
    It does seem like manufacturers should have resolved this issue, but still.

  13. That seems like a lot of work... I would have gotten rid of the Boat. *LOL*

  14. Reason No. 27 why I can't have a boat...LOL.