By Dave Collins -
Seeing as there is nothing news wise going on, I'll let you in on an almost secret. I'm a crazy 81 year - old, who got it into his head to buy a boat. Not just any boat, but a sailboat. I know, before you say anything, that sailboats are not normally on the Mississippi River. However, that's the experience I wanted again, feeling the wind in the sails, the nature sounds, the water gurgling under the hull -seamanship – man against nature.
So, after looking for a long time, I finally bought a used 22 FT Bayliner sailboat. Cute little thing. I knew that if I could get the mast raised and rigging sorted out, it would be in the water where I think I could have managed it. However, it was not meant to be.
The day after buying the boat my wife Sandy and I were in the Winneshiek Marina parking lot trying to decided where to place a ladder to climb into the boat. If anyone had been watching me repeatedly try to raise my leg over the side, they would have said, 'Excuse me mister, but I don't think you should be doing that.' Getting into the boat became throwing myself head first into it, landing on my back, then recovering my dignity in bit and pieces.
Once aboard, Sandy and I started unwinding the standing rigging. Did I mention either of us knew anything about rigging? I have had powerboats in my past, but never a sailboat. By the evening we had it pretty well figured out. We had even managed to move the mast by ourselves into a good position to raise it. We quickly became aware that our combined strength would not be enough to raise the mast all the way up.
We decided to call it a day, as we were hot and tired. As I climbed down the ladder to the second to the last step, I realized my left foot was not in position to reach the last step. I thought, 'oh heck, I can just skip that one step'. The ladder's first step is higher than the rest, so I was surprised at the drop, lost my balance, and fell over backwards.
When I hit the ground, I realized instantly that I had broken my hip bone. I rolled on my back in agony. My view of the world narrowed to my wife, a small path of blue and white sky, and the boat. I knew my life had just changed, perhaps in a major, permanent way. In no time there were a couple of EMT's looking down at me, probably wondering 'what kind of fool is this.'