BY ARLENE APPELROUTH / AJT //

Arlene Appelrouth

Arlene Appelrouth

While standing in line at a marina just before 7 p.m. last Sunday, I was waiting to purchase two red dock lines for my boat, when something unusual caught my eye. A group of women gathered around a map, struggling to locate something.

“What are you looking for?” I asked, noticing how young, tall and beautiful these women were. Surprisingly, there weren’t any men hanging around.

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“It’s where we’re having my bachelorette party,” said the amazingly beautiful blonde who later said her name was Julie. “I rented a lake house in Dawsonville for my bachelorette weekend. I’m trying to find it on this map, but I have no idea how we are going to get back because we’re stranded.”

My curiosity piqued.

“How did that happen” I asked, while my husband Dan looked on impatiently.

Julie explained that she and her friends had been eating and drinking at the marina’s outdoor restaurant. They had arrived by boat, but neither the friend who brought them nor his boat was anywhere in sight. They didn’t know what to do.

“If you have the street address I can get you there,” I volunteered, thinking about the miracle of the Google map app on my iPhone.

Dan silently shook his head back and forth while simultaneously rolling his eyes to indicate his disapproval. He didn’t say anything, but he’s not one to interrupt. I’ve lived with him long enough to understand his body language.

“Do you mean that?” another woman asked, her eyes widening in disbelief. “Are you actually saying you will take us? By car or  boat? We’ve been calling everyone for help, but can’t get a taxi or even a car service to pick us up.

That didn’t surprise me. Looking for a taxi on Lake Lanier is like looking for a helicopter. If you get into a horrendous car accident, a helicopter will air-vac you, but unless a paramedic calls 911 for emergency help, forget it.

The reason I know that is because I still remember my helicopter ride six years ago. I was transported to an Atlanta hospital with two broken ankles and a broken right arm. But that’s a story for another column.

The truth is, if you find yourself at a marina on the lake without a boat, chances are you won’t be leaving anytime soon; unless, of course, I happen to show up.

They don’t call me ‘the boat lady’ for nothing.

“My boat has a full tank of gas,” I said. “How many of you are stranded?”

There were five women. My boat seats seven.

“Follow me,” I said.

Dan was grimacing, in silence.

“Dan, I’ll take you back to our lake house so you don’t have to come,” I offered, not asking why he disapproved. “Why don’t you head to the boat while I wait for these women  to get their things,” I said, taking charge.

Julie, the bride-to-be, picked up on Dan’s mood.

“I don’t want to cause trouble between you and your husband,” she said, “I appreciate your offer, but I don’t want to cause you any problem.”

“We’ve been married a long time,” I replied. “Forty-two years. He doesn’t always like what I do, but he’ll get over it. Don’t give it a second thought.”

My only concern was the time. It would be dark soon. Navigating after sunset might be challenging from an area of the lake I didn’t usually frequent. The Google map app did not come with flood lights and I never learned to navigate by the stars.

I slowly drove out of the no wake zone and turned the steering wheel south, to drop Dan off at our dock which was a 20 minute ride away.

“I’m coming with you,” he said, taking our lake map from the boat’s glove compartment. I thought how funny it was to refer to it as a “glove compartment” on a boat, as if anyone would have gloves on a boat. I wondered if anyone thought to rename it a map compartment.

I pushed the throttle as far down as it would go. We were cruising about 30 miles per hour and the other dashboard indicator registered 4000 rpms.

We drove under Brown’s Bridge and kept heading north. The sun had turned orange and was on the port side. We passed under a second, smaller bridge and thought we probably were in Dawsonville.

“Wow, you know how to handle this boat,” said another of my passengers, whose name I never learned.

I had no idea how much longer the ride would take and wondered how cold it might be if we ended up sleeping on my small runabout. Dan pointed out a park with two public docks, checked the map and said it was Little Hole park.

“Is there anyone you can call who can pick you up here?” he asked.

“Sure,” one of the women answered. It’s awesome you brought us this far. Three of the women took out their cell phones and began making calls.

“You know, you can always call 911, “Dan said, “the police would be able to take you where you need to go”

“There’s also the coast guard,” I added. “But hopefully someone you know will pick you up here.”

“What’s your last name, Julie?” I asked, as she and her friends disembarked. “And when is your wedding?”

She told me her last name and that the wedding would be in November.

It was a beautiful ride home, watching the colors change in the sky. Once back in my house, the first thing I did was Google Julie and look for her on Facebook. Dan and I made it back to our house while I could still navigate.

Hopefully, so did the five stranded women.

About the writer

Arlene Appelrouth earned a degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of Florida and her career as a writer and journalist spans a 50-year period; she currently studies memoir writing while working on her first book.

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