Before my dad committed the ultimate misdeed two summers ago and sold our ’92 Malibu Sunsetter to a family that undoubtably loved it less than we did, countless summer hours revolved around ‘The Pink Boat’. And while certain days spent skiing behind that pink and grey-striped beauty stand out more than others, there is one particular day that rises far above the rest.
The July sun was hot and Lake Wisconsin was glass calm and virtually vacant of boats as my friend, Danielle, and I heaved our heavy wood-plank swivel skis into the water before jumping in after them. At the time, we were both fairly new to swiveling, a form of skiing in which the binding platform is mounted onto a wide single ski and able to rotate 360°. As we treaded water and slowly detangled our respective ski ropes, my dad began to idle the boat while Danielle’s twin, Mallory, sat spotter.
With our right feet slipped into the swivel binding and our ropes pulled taught, we both hollered “Go Boat” before my dad pushed the throttle down and pulled the two of us out of the water.
One of the first tricks any new swiveler learns is the toe turn, a move in which the skier rotates 180° with her free foot slipped through a hold in the rope’s handle. The opposite end of the ski rope is attached to a pin release, rather than a pylon, which allows the spotter in the boat to detach the rope, should the skier fall.
Coasting above the water, Dani and I each lifted our left legs and wriggled the soles of our feet through the toe hold in the rope. Because we were just learning toe turns, we took turns rotating one-at-a-time.
With my right foot firmly planted on my gliding ski and left leg secured in the rope, I held my arms out to support Dani as she prepared to turn. Dani gracefully lifted her arms above her head and simultaneously shifted her hips and shoulders to the horizon behind us as she turned backward with a click.
With Dani safely turned and riding backward on her ski, I relaxed a bit in my toe hold and began to survey the water beneath me. Glints of silver flashes around the edge of the boat wake quickly caught my eye.
Just as my heart rate spiked and I came to the realization that the silver glints were actually what I can now only assume were hundreds of minnows, I opened my mouth to alert Dani of the trouble lurking below. I was, unfortunately, a moment too late. Tired of riding backward, Dani initiated her forward toe turn.
The recovery of a toe turn is more difficult than the initial turn.
At age 16, few things terrified me more than fish.
My blood curdling screams pierced the cottages surrounding Lake Wisconsin before my ski even sank in the water.
Dani had lost her balance on the recovery, which subsequently led to Mallory pulling the pin and releasing both of our ropes from the boat. While Dani plunged into the water, I slowly glided to a stop, fully of the aware of my minnow-filled fate.
Once submerged in Lake Wisconsin’s brown waters the school of minnows that had been jumping along the moving wake were now jumping around us. I frantically thrashed the water in an attempt to spook the little fish as they jumped onto my head and shoulders and bumped against my body. Sixteen-year-old Kelsey Bewick was out of her mind.
My flailing only intensified when I accidently kicked an unknown solid beneath me. Fearing that I had come in contact with a larger fish, or some unknown Lake Wisconsin water-creature, I began screaming and splashing uncontrollably.
It turns out the unknown solid beneath me was sand. We had been pinned in only four feet of water and could have easily stood and gained our composure… but we were far beyond that point of return.
With my unreasonable panic attack raging in full force, my dad quickly maneuvered The Pink Boat to the scene of the crime. Initially unaware that our screams were the result of being dropped into a school of minnows, my dad arrived thinking that one of us was seriously hurt. To say that my he was not pleased upon discovering the cause of our frantic screams and unrestrained thrashing would be an understatement.
The Pink Boat was put away for the day following that episode. And while I remained a bit leery about skiing amongst my minnow enemies for a few weeks following the incident, I did apprehensively return to Lake Wisconsin’s murky waters.
Seven summers later, not a year has gone by where Dani, Mal and I don’t look back on that fateful day and laugh in hysterics. Because regardless if a day is generally awful or great, any summer day spent on a boat in the middle of a lake is memorable… some more than others.