From the archives: A Thrilling Misadventure Their annual get-away weekend had been planned months in advance. Twenty three year old Nancy, a slender pretty brunette with impetuous tendencies would drive her husband Mike's pride and joy, a 1965 Amphicar the 83 miles to Weir's Beach, NH. Bearded Michael Branagan, three years his wife's elder and a tad short for his one hundred and ninety pounds, had spent the week polishing and detailing his treasured flame-red carboat, in preparation for the Third Annual Lakes Region Antique Boat Show. The white convertible top was squeaky clean, wide whitewalls gleamed in the morning sunshine, and the two propellers protruding from the rear were spotless. Nancy climbed high up into this eccentric but fascinating vehicle and examined the cockpit-like interior for points off imperfections. This had been her assignment. She had meticulously cleaned the black crinkle-finish dashboard taking care not to disturb the Bilge Plug Warning Decal and scoured each white control knob. The gray and white vinyl seats had been scrubbed until not a spot remained. Mike's confidence in first prize honors was evident in his almost constant beguiling Irish smile. At last, the day arrived with brilliant sunshine and cotton-candy cumulus clouds. Packing the limited luggage area proved to be quite a feat. The wicker picnic basket, brimming with home cooked goodies, had to be carefully arranged among the orange life jackets, first-aid kit, battered but essential tool box, inflatable life raft and other boating accessories occupying the car's front end. "Leave the life jackets behind if you must" chuckled Mike, "but don't forget the beer." There was no chance she would leave the life jackets behind. At last their journey began. While traveling north on Rte. 93, Nancy, with some nervous trepidation, tried to make light conversation and enjoy the brilliant autumn hues which make new Hampshire a fall tourist Mecca. The surprised smiles and gawking stares of passer-byes inspired Mike to perform. With his nautical cap and bearded grin, the Captain of the ship waved, pushed a control stick forward, and the two rear props whirred in the wind to the delight of the transient audience. As they continued on he spoke, as if to himself, "I sure hope we can find a smooth boat ramp, or we could have a problem." Nancy looked at him thinking of her inability to swim and dread of water. "Maybe we should forget the boat show and just have a picnic." Mike glanced at her, winked, and affectionately exclaimed, "Have no fear skipper, I wouldn't let this beauty sink." Nancy secretly prayed, her only hope was that they wouldn't find a suitable boat ramp. "Hang on, here we go!" Mike yelled as they drove the Amphicar from the street into the boat channel, in second gear with propellers spinning. Mike and Nancy had donned their kapok jackets and traded seats after what appeared to be a suitable access to the lake. The nose of the carboat submarined down, down, down or so it seemed. "Oh no" she screamed in dread, "we're sinking." Just as she exclaimed her terror, a slug of cold water rushed over the windscreen and engulfed them. Splash, Squish, Burrrrr, the little Amphi bobbed like a lobster buoy in a hurricane, but to the astonishment of both Nancy and several frenzied onlookers, they were not only afloat, but making headway. The little red convertible had magically become a boat! "Guess that ramp wasn't as smooth as I figured" said Mike. "We'll have to find a better one to get out." As they eased out of the channel into the harbor, a special patrol boat with a bewildered pilot approached the buoyant auto. "I'll guide you to the Show Dock and find you a front row spot" he yelled and shone a beaming smile as he led us to the dock. Mike, oblivious to his "drowned rat" appearance was lapping up the hype as the astonished spectators flashed, beeped, and waved their approval. On the other hand, Nancy, with her drenched brown locks and wet purple jersey was a woebegone vision in sloshing sneakers. "Just relax, Hon you're doing great and we're almost to the dock." He said patiently trying to allay her fears. "Everything's OK" And it was for now. Mike dropped the fenders and secured the boat to the dock cleats and had a delightful time explaining the seagoing ability and interesting history of his toy boatcar. Nancy, meanwhile, enjoyed the feeling of terra-firma, under her feet and chatted amiably with the curious crowd. By Four PM many of the old brass laden steamers and mahogany Chris Crafts began to cast off. Mike and Nancy decided to follow suit and were assured a suitable ramp was available in Meredith, "just round the bend." After pumping the bilge and checking the hatch locks, the Branagans left the dock, heading for the Meredith public boat ramp. A few minutes past "The Broads" the sky became threatening. Ominous dark clouds appeared out of nowhere, and it began to drizzle. "No Problem", Mike assured his wife as they removed the boot, put the top up and switched on the windshield wipers. A strong wind had blown up and the darkened skies posed imminent danger, in Nancy's mind at least. "Please Mike, let's wait till the storm passes" she pleaded in a distressed voice. "We've had enough excitement for today." "Now Nance" he said with assurance, "It's only a few miles we'll make it no sweat, just keep checking that chart." The murky, choppy waters of Lake Winnepesaukee stretched before them as a challenge to be conquered. Bobbing up and down like a giant yo-yo the Amphicar traversed the harbor and was soon alone in the middle of the channel, with an impending storm moving closer and closer. "Check the chart for those black channel markers and keep an eye peeled for that ramp. We should be seeing it soon." Mike hoped his sweetheart hadn't noticed the bilge pump had quit, and his knuckles where turning white. "But this map says we're in 160 feet of water and I can't swim," screamed Nancy with her eyes brimming like the water slapping the bonnet and sides of the car. "I know we're going to drown!" As if on cue the roar of thunder and a flash of lightening was seen in the distance, as huge raindrops splattered the windshield. Calmly, Mike suggested they roll up the windows as he put on his Mae West. Nancy had been wearing her's since leaving the dock. The Lake quickly became a raging bull, charging relentlessly at the toy intruder. Nancy's consternation mounted with each swell. She prayed silently for their safety, quietly making deals in exchange for safe passage. Plodding along at about three knots, the trip seemed endless. Even Mike, usually serene and unaffected by danger, was beginning to exhibit a nervous twitch. Abruptly, in the rear view mirror, Mike spotted a large object approaching on the port side, and leaving in it's trail a six or seven foot, white capped wake. He shouted to Nancy to hold on while he maneuvered the Amphi to ride the wake with the least amount of danger. Our boat rocked side to side, fore and aft as the mail boat approached. It felt like David facing Goliath. Neither spoke but both knew that wake was going to be nasty. Nancy held onto the dashboard for dear life. At that moment the Motor Vessel "Mount Washington" reversed her engines amidships to allow the little putt-putt to regain it's composure and dampen the wake. The unbelieving, waving, and cheering passengers crowded the deck to see this weird spectacle in the turbulent water. Palpitations and sheer panic held Nancy suspended, as she dared not breathe. Mike, occupied with maintaining some semblance of calm, navigated his "Baby" with a captain's skill. Just ahead, finally, they spotted land and several locals waving their arms and applauding. It was, at last, the boat ramp "just round the bend." As the tires of the carboat touched the macadam ramp Mike said " I knew we'd make it, but maybe we should go to church." He looked across the seat to see Nancy wiping her eyes, now smiling with such relief. "Remind me to learn how to swim," she quivered. "Nice sailing Mike." She silently whispered, "Thank you Lord" and wondered if He would really expect her to keep that promise of joining the convent. This short story was written by Paula Drake over 20 years ago, and based on an actual experience in August 1977.