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The Story as to Why There is Only One Hydro-Flite Ski

'For years and years there has been a ‘waterski garage’ section under the cabin'...

Only one Hydro-Flite.

The Story of Why There is Only One Hydro-Flite Ski

For years and years there has been a ‘waterski garage’ section under the cabin. Many of the skis are viable today, but a few are just lying there, somewhat unappreciated, in a bit of a ski graveyard. The memories these skis invoke is still heartwarming, but in this one story, about this one ski, there is a bit of a unusual unplanned twist to it.

Back in the day, and I mean, way back, when my brother and I were little, possibly when our parents were in their thirty’s and forty’s, the world was old-school for so many things, like water skiing, for instance. There were less stringent rules about recreational boating, and who was to be in the boat when a person went waterskiing.

These days there are so many rules when it comes to boating and safety, and for good reason, for sure. But way back then in my youth, when my parents, wanted a water ski, my mom would drive the boat and tow my dad, and my dad would then drive and tow my mom. That was how it was, skier and driver, simple, no ‘shot-gun’ observer, or third party required to act as skier spotter, (observer), or safety lookout. As youngsters, we were always welcome to go in the boat, even in those early mornings, when the lake was calm and my parents were up, however, we were often busy doing something else. My dad was a night-hawk, and consequently then, a late sleeper in the mornings. As my parents would don their swim suits and go down to the dock, and subsequently climb into the boat to catch a delightful morning glide across the clear calm, lake before the breezy, water chop of the day, we kids would remain behind to eat our well-anticipated and long-awaited, breakfast. Because my father was such a late sleeper, and because we slept in a tent, we were the wild youngings who ran loose in the mornings, to self-amuse in our own adventures starting with the break of a new day. We new the instructions and rules were to be very quiet so as not to disturb our parents, specifically our dad. We were awake and up long before our parents, though, when Mom awoke she would pray to enjoy a little quiet time, sip tea and read until Dad was up, obviously with one ear on us. Our parents’ ski time often then coincided with our breakfast time, and we’d be ravenous by then. This meant we grabbed our bowls of cereal and orange juice to just gratefully sit out on the deck and watch our parents go for their respective skis. This was often a morning spectator-and-munch activity.

Our cabin is situated in a small bay, within a larger bay, and unlike the busy and highly populated areas of the lake, ourselves and the other three neighbours all skied directly from our respective docks, not from off somewhere in the middle of the lake. We are privately and peacefully in a world of our own here. And so, the way we had to take off with a water skier was straight out, but when returning, we headed straight for our cabin, full speed, until, in the last possible and last safe moment, we would do a hard turn left and parallel our point shoreline so that the skier came directly towards the dock to presumably let go at the most perfect time, and in the most perfect way to land near the dock. Yes, that is tricky, yes, there are stories, and yes, I have managed a ‘dry dock’ land wherein, I came in and grabbed the dock after letting go of the rope at that perfect speed so as to not get fully wet. I do not recommend this method to anyone out there. Most of us lake dwellers have grown up at the lake and have had years, and I do mean years, of experience to get this down pat safely, whether it is a smart thing to do or not, admittedly.

My father was mostly a slalom skier, but, he did prefer to drop the second ski when he was up and fully out of the water. As a rule, over the years, we have all liked to do ‘dock starts’, wherein you sit on the edge of the dock and ‘hit it’ to ski from a higher than full ‘water start’, it’s easier. However, I might add, every skier has to learn how to do a water start eventually, because if you dock start every time and don’t know how, it is a guarantee you will one day fall out there somewhere on the lake and will not be able to get up again, until you learn, period.

I digress. This one morning, my mom was taking my dad for a ski. Dad was using the old Hydro-Flite skis, and one had a regular fin, and one was made for the single ski, or slalom ski. As my brother and I sat out on the deck this one fine sunny morning, to munch our cereal and watch our parents, I remember seeing Mom head straight in full boar towards us and the cabin, nearing the completion of Dad’s ski, for drop-off, which was normal, however, as she focused on that critical timing moment when she had to turn the boat hard left and not exceed the safe turning radius, she did not see that second ski floating and now partially submerged, that ski that my father had dropped after getting up when he had started out. I remember watching in horror as she headed straight for it, and I think I yelled, but she would never would have heard me over the roar of the engine! Crack! I even remember hearing the distinct cracking sound of wood splintering and breaking in two! Yes, that day she ran over the old Hydro-Flite wooden ski and sheered it clean in half. I might add, that my father was none too pleased about that, as he had to obviously buy another ski, as that one was completely unrepairable.

If there had been a ‘shot-gun spotter’, (or observer) in the boat, that most likely would never have happened, of course. That is why for both the safety of the skier and the boat operator, it is best to have a third person on watch. My husband installed a rear-view mirror on our boat’s windshield, as I will admit that when my husband and I were newly married and childless, or even later, when they were babies, we also just went out skiing with just a driver and skier, neighbours babysitting for a few moments for us, sometimes. Nowadays, neighbours have to call each other to go, because even off-grid cabins on remote lakes, in early morning hours can get pulled over by the authorities who drop in with their Zodiac boats from time to time and check us all out, especially on busier holiday weekends. They will check for alcohol consumption, safety regulation adherence, like carrying flares, and paddles, and certainly making sure of the lifejacket count. These days they will also check that you have the appropriate boating Operators License. (I had the full Power Squadron credentials.)

Boating safety has certainly changed, but for obvious reasons, the lakes are busier, the boats are bigger and the skiing traffic is becoming as crazy as airport flight paths. Back then life was simpler, but stuff still happened, and for the record, the boat was not harmed in that ski-slicing incident! And there you have it, the story of why there is only one Hydro-Flite, old, wooden waterski sitting under the deck.

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