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Equipment failure when you least expect it

y wife got me a new trolling motor last year. It would make the johnboat get up and fly. A person could almost water ski behind it if they were prone to that sort of thing. The only reason I needed more power was to get to my fishing spot sooner. I put the motor safely away last fall and never gave it another thought until this spring.

One day while doing chores, I remembered to put the battery on the charger in hopes of going fishing when the flood waters receded and the weather warmed.

The day finally arrived. My wife and I loaded the motor, battery, three dogs, and all the gear required for a fishing trip. At the lake, before launching, for some reason I decided to check the motor. It did not turn its prop at all. I did not know what could have happened to an almost new trolling motor in a closet over winter, but it was obviously dead. All was not lost since it was still under warranty and we could fish from the canoe. There was the annoying part of having to paddle, but we could still fish.

The next day, I returned the non-functioning trolling motor to our local outdoors supply store, Lines and Tines. Robert said it would not be a problem. He would send it in for repair or replacement. I would be back to trolling the length and breadth of the lake in no time.

I think Robert may have been around the block a time or two. Before he sent it in, he hooked the trolling motor to his truck battery. It worked fine, both forward and reverse. He could have been nice and said he fixed it but instead told me I had a dead battery. Who would have thought of that. Apparently, everyone except me.

The next weekend, I charged up the battery again. This time I made sure it was fully charged and the motor worked before my wife and I set out on our evening fishing trip. We launched the boat and headed for the big cottonwood trees.

I was catching a few crappie in the jumble of underwater logs, but my wife could not even get a bite. Fishing is not a good spectator sport. She was ready to move after my third or fourth fish. Moving from a good spot did not bother me. When a person is on, they can catch fish anywhere. We could go to the island where my wife could probably catch a few and I could continue my lucky streak.

I turned across the breeze toward the island and opened the motor up. We came up on plane and streaked across the surface for a minute or so. The trolling motor slowed dramatically, slowed some more, and came to a stop.

The battery I am using is a heavy duty, deep cycle, marine battery. For years, I have only had to charge it once or twice during the summer. I think perhaps the key phrase is "for years." Up until that very moment, it never occurred to me, the battery may have outlived its useful life by more than a year or two.

My wife said she thought the battery just died. I agreed; it was a real possibility. I asked her if we had any pressing engagements since drifting to shore might take a while. It was a good thing we did not have to be anywhere any time soon, because we were going to be nowhere except the middle of the lake until the gentle breeze pushed us to the beach.

If I was going to be stranded on the lake, I could think of no better company. We talked, fished, and enjoyed the evening until we eventually made it to shore. Except for, or maybe because of the equipment failure, we had a very pleasant outing on the lake.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.