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She`s just an old boat with a 20 horse Merc………

Well……… it just might just look like an old boat to you, but let me tell ya a little Tale or two about her…….. Once upon a time……….. Many Summers long ago, when I was 14 years old, Dad came home & asked me, “How`d ya like to try fluke fishin`?” “Heck yea!” I said. My Dad worked for Power & Light & one of his buddies at work invited us to go fluke fishin` down the shore on his boat. Ronnie Lettenmaier was the gentleman that my Dad worked with at JCP&L. (As I was writing this I checked on the spelling of his last name and was saddened to learn that Ronnie just passed away on May 8th 2014. My deepest condolences to the entire family…..I`m sure he would’ve liked to have read this story) So we got up really early & off to Annandale we went to Ronnie`s house, hooked up the boat, jumped in his truck and off we went to Atlantic Highlands. Now this was a really big deal for me as I had never went “Deep-Sea Fishin`”(Well…….. it was the Deep Sea to me at that time! ha! ha!) I remember it was barely daybreak on that rainy day when Ronnie wheeled the truck into to the Tackle Box, so we could get our killies and squid for bait. As we got out of his truck the smell of salt air got me really excited `cause we were almost there!  After getting our bait, we pulled into Atlantic Highlands, parked the truck, put all of our gear/poles/coolers in the boat, then launched the boat. Now we were ready! As I climbed into Ronnie`s boat I thought, “Boy…, This is a really cool boat”. She was a 1963 Deep-V Aluminum 14 footer with a 20 horse power Mercury Motor. Now on the motor it had 9.9 h.p. stickers on it………. See you were only allowed a 10 horse power motor in Spruce Run & Round Valley(and still are only), so Ronnie had 9.9 Mercury stickers over that 20 horse Merc!~~~ ha! ha! Perfect idea!…………. now you could fish in the bay & the reservoir! ha! ha! Boy did we ever catch fluke that day! Back then there were no size limits & there where tons of fish to catch. I remember we ended up bringing home 69 fluke that fun-filled rainy day in Atlantic Highlands! What a day fishin` and what an impression on a 14 year old boy! We split up our catch at day`s end, thanked Ronnie for a great time and headed home to fillet a lot of fish! My Dad actually bought that boat a couple months later as Ronnie got a bigger boat. So a few a month or so pasts & Ronnie invited us to go fishin` again on his new boat. This time it wasn’t just going to be the guys fishin` as Ronnie`s Daughter went also. Besides being a bit shy around girls at that age, I was also very embarrassed too by what happened…… His new boat was a lot bigger so four people had a ton of room. Must’ve been at at least a 20 foot boat or better. Well………. so we`re all out fishin` and laughin` and having a really good time……… that is until I got sea-sick!~~~ ha! ha! Talk about being embarrassed!~~~~ ha! ha! Sooooooooooo there I am in front of this pretty girl chummin` and I can still hear my Dad sayin`, “Jesus christ Kenny…… you`re gettin` sick in the god damn bay!” —-ha! ha! Sooooooooooooooooooooo now we have our own boat! This was awesome!! I remember Dad & me goin` Fluke fishin` ourselves & always catchin` a lot of fish. One Saturday we took her over to Spruce Run Reservoir and caught some really nice trout. Then it started to rain……….. no no I mean it poured like a monsoon!~ ha! ha! Dad always said, “Baby it when you`re out on the Reservoir, don`t raise hell with it because it`s not legal to have on here”. So much for that thought Dad! – ha! ha! `Cause when it started pouring he opened her up & said, “The hell with this, we`re goin` in!” – Everyone was just looking because he was flying past all them like the were standing still with their 10 horse power boats! -ha! ha! When we got to the ramp one guy on the dock says, “Man……. that has to be the fastest boat I ever seen out here!”- ha! ha! Another time Dad let me take her out all night on Spruce Run with my fishin` buddy Tim Heinrich. What night this was! See I didn’t know my way fully around Spruce Run let alone at night! So it was about 2 am & a fog was rollin` in across the water & I got confused as to where the heck I was exactly. So bein` a kid I gunned it across the water that night. Now when you opened up that motor, because of the size of the boat, the entire front end went up in the air & you really couldn’t see well at all. You counted on the man sittin` in the bow to watch for objects in the water. As I raced across the Reservoir that foggy night, I can still see Tim jumpin` back startled quickly yellin`,”Turn the boat! Kenny turn the damn boat hard!” with that I cut it really hard & said to him, “What the hell was it?”……….. He said, “There was nothin` there……..I mean nothin` at all…….. no water……nothin`!…….……. Apparently we came up way too fast on the dam that night as I foolishly raced across the foggy water………. I guess we were both a little shaken `cause I parked her in a cove for the rest of the night until daybreak. My Dad past away when I was 16 y/o and Mom gave me the boat and his car so I would have my “1st Car” but everyone I knew had cool Hot Rods and that`s what I was thinkin` about too. J.K. Hoffman had a cool old `74 Barracuda that his Son Kenny had owned just sitting up past Califon School up in his lot in the weeds by the Beeman`s as we called it. I went and saw JK and bought it for $800 bucks with money I saved up from throwin` hay up at Al Nagie`s and the J.Scott Morrison Farms that summer, got it runnin` and wanted to get it restored………. but didn`t have the money to get this done. So I sold the boat. I sold it to a neighbor, Art Landon, just two houses from ours. Art fished out of that old boat for quite a few years catching Shad and Fluke too. Well one summer eve back in 1995 Art was over at my Mom`s havin` a beer and talkin` to Mom, my Step-Father and me when I brought up the boat. I said, “Hey Art are you using the boat much anymore?” He said, “Not really Kenny why?”….. I said, “Would you like to sell it back to me?”………….. Art said, “Yeah…..why not? ………….. me, “Ok… much?”……… Then Art said, “I`ll tell you what, you give me the same $1,000 that I gave you when you were 17 and you can have her back”. Which I happily agreed too……… Then Art smiled, took a drink of his beer and looked at me and said, “Ya know where I’ve been with that boat?”……..He said, “Ever hear of the Mud Hole Kenny?” “Ever hear of it???……… Heck yea I been out there fishin` plenty of times” I said. Art looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “I’ve been to the Mud Hole in that boat……. by myself!” I said, “WHAT???????????????????!!!!!!!!!! Are you kiddin` me??”………………. Art didn`t lie. I knew he was tellin` me the truth. He told me he took two tanks of gas and followed a Party Boat out there and told them to keep an eye on him `cause he was going out alone. Ohhhhhhhh………… Let me give you an idea about the Mud Hole……..The Mud Hole is about 20-25 miles out to sea!!!!!!! So I bought my old boat back and sadly we lost a good neighbor and dear friend as Art passed away in January 1996……… Not sure where my old boat would’ve ended up if Art hadn`t graciously allowed me to buy it back that Summer of `95. Sometimes when I sit out back on the patio, havin` a beer and look at that old boat and I reminisce about all of the fun, adventurous times that I have had over the years with it. Yea…….. She`s just an old boat with a 20 horse Merc……… With a boatful of memories that I always cherish…………. THE END.

Out & about in the New Jersey Wilderness