My Darling B and I went out first thing in the morning in the canoe to paddle around the quiet lakes where no motorboats can go, and we didn’t even have to get out of the canoe at Beasley Creek to do it, so my guess that the water must be several inches higher this year must be right. Two of us in a canoe should have grounded almost right away, but we paddled right on through. It took us about an hour to make the circuit from our cabin on Columbia Lake across Long Lake, up Beasley Creek to Orlando and Knight Lakes, through the channel to Manomin and Pope Lakes to Marl Lake, and then circle around and come back.
After we tied up to the dock at about eight o’clock and rubbed the ache out of our poor tired butts, the next thing we noticed was that the peace and quiet was pierced by a shrill, steady beep coming from somewhere down the shore line. It was the kind of noise a smoke alarm makes, so I assumed it was coming from one of the cabins and would be shut off shortly by the very annoyed dweller of the cabin. I went inside and made a pot of coffee without thinking any more about it.
Until I went back outside fifteen minutes later and it was still beeping, whatever it was. I took a short walk down to the end of the path that runs along the shoreline past the cabins and noticed that it wasn’t coming from the directions of the cabins at all. It sounded as if it was coming from one of the boats tied up along the dock. I walked back until I thought the noise was loudest, then tried to zero in on the particular boat. The most likely candidate seemed to be a big speedboat tricked out with all kinds of fishing gear, but not knowing the etiquette of private docks and not wanting to be caught poking around in a very expensive boat loaded with very expensive equipment, I didn’t walk out to take a closer look.
Back at the cabin the rest of the O-folk were sitting on the porch, sipping morning coffee and talking about the same thing: the beeping noise. When I told them it seemed to be coming from a boat tied up at the dock, My Darling B’s first thought was, “Can we do anything about it? Like sink it?” I mentioned that the boat looked very expensive but that didn’t seem to spark the same hesitation in the others that it had in me. Everybody had a suggestion for how to stop the beeping, and a lot of the suggestions involved action that would be sudden, swift, final, and in a few cases explosive and/or conflagratory. That’s how irritating the sound of this alarm was.
My brother and I hoofed on down to the dock to maybe peek into the boat and see if there wasn’t something really obvious we could spot, like a big orange switch over a red flashing light labeled “Annoying Alarm,” but no luck there. We did notice, though, that it wasn’t coming from the big speed boat I thought it was coming from. Instead, it was coming from a small, weatherbeaten passenger boat tied up to the next dock over. Peet-O-Reeno found the battery compartment and tried to undo the wing nut that connected one of the power cables to a terminal but it was dogged down too tight. While he was doing that, though, he gave the battery a jiggle that shut down the alarm. When it started up again he gave it another, more enthusiastic jog, and it stopped for good. We were welcomed back at the cabin as victorious conquerors.
Our victory was short-lived. The alarm probably had a loose connection that was tightened up a bit when he joggled the battery and loosened up again as the boat rocked in the waves, because it eventually started beeping again. I gave the battery a couple good shakes to shut it up, but the fix was once again only temporary. We would have to try to figure out a more permanent fix.
My Darling B tried calling the owner of our cabin, but in the end what took care of it was another fellah just trying to enjoy the peace and quiet of the afternoon on his pontoon boat. He was tied up at a dock just a couple dozen yards further down the shore and, when he’d finally had enough, he came up with a pliers, climbed down into the boat, and undid the battery cable. The alarm fell silent and the peace of the afternoon was restored for everyone in the camp. I passed the laurel wreath of victory to him as he came back from the dock, pliers in hand, and thanked him for all of us.