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When embarrassment is worth the risk

If the battery for my trolling motor was a year or two old, it would have been much easier to give it up for lost. Since it was only three weeks old, my inner cheap self could not let it go.

I have been told, especially by my wife and sons that I am so tight I squeak. I prefer to think of it as being frugal. Frugality sent me battery diving Sunday afternoon.

The day started by going over to the cabin to clean the up the branches and acorns that had washed onto the lawn. My wife decided to mow while I raked, stacked and burned. The storm that flipped my boat and lost my battery had also made a mess of the area. Trees along the edge of the timber had limbs broken off and large areas of grass in the pasture was laying flat. It must have been a heck of a storm.

When a person is doing a mindless activity such as mowing or raking up piles of acorns, it gives one plenty of time to think. I thought about how far the battery could be from the dock. Surely not far. How much damage could soaking in the bottom of the lake do to a battery. It more than likely would not have a charge but would probably not be ruined. When I got done raking, my wife was still happily cruising around the lawn.

Too much thinking accompanied by time to act is not always a good thing.

I went up on the dock, stripped down and dove in. I might mention, our lake is private and well off the road. I swam to the bottom near the dock where I thought the battery would most likely be. Trying to keep an organized search I covered the mud and sand, feeling with my hands.

Much to my surprise, after several dives, I found something that was not my battery. I surfaced for a breath of air and returned to retrieve a trolling motor. I am not sure whose trolling motor it was, but I do not remember losing one. It was quite nice, at one time, but several years at the bottom of the lake had taken off most of its luster.

I jumped up on the dock to take a break about the same time my wife took a turn toward the dock on her mower. The startled look on her face was priceless. She looked at me and whipped around to check out the driveway, sure that someone would be pulling in. I was not nearly as concerned. Even if someone did drive down the driveway, how exciting would it be to see a shiny, white, old guy on the dock?

I went back to my systematic search. After several more dives, I found a piece of pipe that had been part of a previous dock. I finally gave up, got dressed, and went to the porch for a break. My wife finished about that time and we sat enjoying the view and the quiet of the lake.

We had been relaxing only a few minutes when Damon, Amanda and Zane pulled up. Zane played with the dogs on the freshly-mown lawn while the adults discussed our weekend up to that point. When I told Damon about diving for my battery (leaving out a few details) he got up, grabbed a tent pole, a roll of electrical tape, and a fishing net. We headed to the lake with renewed confidence in finding the battery.

I showed him the area I had searched. He reached just beyond my final search area and found something hard and heavy almost immediately. Leaving my clothes on this time, I jumped in and followed his tent pole to the bottom. I grabbed the battery and tried to swim to the surface. A person would be surprised how difficult it is to swim with a 50-pound battery.

I was finally able to bounce off the bottom and push the battery above the surface where Damon could grab it. When I checked it out, I could not believe the findings. The battery was fine and was even still charged.

There is nothing wrong with being frugal and determined. A person might have to risk a bit of embarrassment at times, but the money savings are well worth it.

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