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Boating Safety Story

Dear Jim,

I learned about boating/fishing safety from my grandfather when I was five years old.

He and my grandmother owned a Minnesota fishing resort on a very large and deep lake back in the 50's. I spent many exciting summers there from the time I was 4 years old until I was 14 when he passed away and my grandmother sold the resort. Oftentimes, my conversations with him would dwell on being safe as much as they focused on fishing, friendships, and other grandfatherly topics.

One weekend a couple of fishermen showed up and wanted to rent a boat. My grandfather refused due to high winds and a severe storm forecast. They went to the other side of the lake where they found another resort owner who rented them a boat. Unfortunately, they turned their boat over and both drowned. Their bodies were not found for a few days. Finally, one of them was found and his body was brought by the safety workers to shore at my grandfather's resort. He made sure I saw the deceased who was bloated and showing signs of decomposition.

Many people criticized my grandfather for showing me such a gruesome sight. However, it was a vision I've never forgotten in the more than fifty years since it happened. His lecture was short but the experience of seeing the body has had its intended impact.

He simply said, "Being careful and not fishing today will allow you to fish for many years into the future. Being careless today can end your lifetime of fishing pleasure." Of course, those weren't his exact words but his message was clear.

I've told this story about being safe many times to friends. I'd bet it had an impact on some of them as well. When I see the storm on the horizon and the wind blowing, I wonder about how many lives, maybe even mine, my grandfather's gruesome lesson has saved.

Bob Alexander

Dear Bob:

That's a good story to remember.

Jim Porter

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