When John and I met, we had a brief courtship followed by an abbreviated engagement. Translation: We didn't know each other all that well when we entered into wedded bliss. We hadn't done many activities together and this allowed us to learn all kinds of new and glorious things about each other post marriage vow.
One of the perks of marrying this Man of My Dreams was the fact that he had a boat. I am from Page, AZ and although my family never had a boat (why was that, by the way??) I still had managed to somehow acquire an acute warm fuzzy feeling for all things lake related. (I guess I should clarify that a little and say that I have that WFF as long as the weather and water are on the WARM side, and the HOT side is even better.) Anyhoo... So ya, I'm like "SCORE!' when I moved into John's little gravel pit house as his new bride and only then learned we had a boat.
Going to the lake is an endeavor you want to do with more than one person, not only because conversation is typically better, but because it makes launch and retrieval of the boat more manageable. The first person drives the car and the second person drives the boat during launch. While there is certainly a skill set involved with driving a boat, there is not a lot the boat driver needs to be skilled at in order to have a successful launch. The car driver on the other hand, needs to have a fairly specialized knowledge in order to accomplish said task. This particular knowledge (namely: backing a trailer) falls into a category that John refers to as "Farm Skills." These would be tasks not limited to trailer backing, but also including things like driving a tractor, or saddling a horse. It includes any skill or knowledge not typically gained by a person growing up a neighborhood or urban setting. Of course, John knew I was a person like that-raised almost exclusively on the mean streets of suburbia.
Because we got married in July, we still had lots of good lake weather hanging around. That first summer of matrimony, John was going through the same feelings I was when he thought, "Who in the blazes IS this person I married?!" I think he was a little bit afraid to be alone with me. Actually I think he just didn't think I had any farm skills. The first few times we went to the lake, he would invite some random single guy buddy of his to come along. The 'buddy' would sometimes back the truck, sometimes launch the boat. I would sit quietly and smile (one of those polite smiles where you don't really show your teeth) as I enjoyed getting to know strangers better on the lake.
I wasn't until August that John suggested we go to the lake in the evening-alone-just the two of us. I thought that sounded delightful. When we got to the lake, John suggested I get in the boat and asked if I felt comfortable with that. I suggested HE get in the boat and I would back the trailer. He paused and opened his mouth as if to speak, thought twice, then asked if I was sure I wanted to do that.
I smiled. No teeth showing.
He started sweating.
He stammered and started offering advice. I continued smiling. Since we were still in the honeymoon phase, I am sure he wanted to accommidate my wishes and he agreed. I got into the drivers seat. We pulled down the launch ramp with John in the boat. I flipped a quick u-turn and backed the trailer right down to the water, dropping my hubby and the boat ever so gently in the lake. I think I heard him gasp as I pulled the truck back up the ramp and parked it in the lot. Still smiling my toothless smile, I trotted down the ramp and hopped from the pier to the boat. John didn't say anything and just stared over at me. He had a smile too, only his went from ear to ear. He finally regained his ability to speak and uttered, "You have farm skills." I just kept smiling and looking out over the beauty of the lake in the early evening.
I think that was the night he decided that marrying this stranger from the suburbs wasn't one of the most questionable judgement calls he had ever made. If nothing else, I think he realized that marrying me would be a journey with some interesting surprises.
So ya, I can back a trailer. Here are my tips for anyone wanting to learn how to acquire this farm skill.
Tip #1 When backing a trailer it is best to get your vehicle and trailer lined up straight while going forward. Having them aligned is the easiest position to start from.
Tip #2 (This is my secret to success) Put your hand on the BOTTOM of your steering wheel (this is important!). Then, when you turn around to back your trailer, simply move your hand in the direction you want to the trailer to go. Placing your hand on the bottom of the wheel solves the whole 'steer the opposite direction' mumbo jumbo and makes it easy for your brain to adapt.
Tip #3 When backing a boat trailer, I find it helpful to make my U-turn as close to the water's edge as possible. This way you have the shortest distance to back up. I don't understand the folks who turn around at the top of the ramp, then criss-cross the ramp all the way to the water.
Tip #4 Take your time. There is no rush. It doesn't matter how busy a launch ramp is, you just go nice and slow so you can nail it the first time.
Farm skills are not essential to our salvation, but on the launch ramp, they can help us keep our thoughts pure and our language clean!