Saying Goodbye to Swinger

Think back to the first car you ever owned. Or the vehicle you used to take your family on a special vacation. When it was time to hand the key over to its new owner, did you get a twinge? Maybe this has also happened with a favorite bike or boat? Did you feel silly getting choked up as you told that “thing,” that mass of metal, screws, or plastic goodbye?

My husband Frank and I are about to say goodbye to “Swinger,” a 1971 Glastron boat we’ve had for over 30 years. Frank has trailered it to Castle Rock Flowage when our kids were young, and we’ve used it to explore the upper Dells and northern Wisconsin’s chain of lakes, but it has spent most of its life on Lake Eleanor, our cabin’s small lake. 

Swinger, so named because that is its model name, has a faulty motor which is too old to fix. It’s time to take our last boat ride. 

As my husband turns the key, Swinger’s motor surprisingly doesn’t sputter or cough. Today the motor’s familiar hum is like a favorite, old tune.

When we first bought the boat, our kids were 5, 7, and 15 years old. Swinger faithfully circled our small lake hundreds of times as they and their friends and various other family members skied, rode tubes, and squealed with delight as she whipped them around sharp corners. Thanks to her, our son perfected slalom skiing and especially delighted in creating a rooster tail that could soak unsuspecting people sitting on the end of our dock.

Swinger also made herself available for night crappie fishing, a favorite with several family members. And she allowed us a spectacular view of the 4th of July fireworks by bringing our family and dogs out to the middle of the lake.

It was Swinger who showed me how powerful the bond could be between a dog and its human. My Cockapoo, Josie, doesn’t particularly like the water and would never voluntarily go swimming in the lake. But the day she watched me get up on skis, Swinger pulling me away, she leaped off the dock into deep water and swam out to save me. Fortunately, my son, who was driving the boat, noticed. Josie wasn’t a strong swimmer. and may have drowned if he hadn’t cut the motor and swung around to pick her up.

Swinger also took part in a phenomenal event that took place four years ago. We had raised an orphaned Canadian goose, Gertie. I had hoped that she would imprint on our pet ducks, but she imprinted on humans and wanted to be with us as much as possible. Gertie spent happy summer days paddling around Swinger’s dock, joining us as we swam and watching us ski and tube.

It was late summer when Frank and I and other family members got in Swinger for a fast ride around the lake. Gertie followed us onto the dock. If a goose could give “puppy eyes,” she did. “No,” I said aloud, “you can’t come, Gertie.”

She now had her flight feathers and had gotten more independent. She plopped into the water and kept watching. As soon as my husband started Swinger’s motor, Gertie flapped her wings. When he pulled down the throttle, she rose into the air. When we sped away, she followed, flying by our side. Her wing tips were close enough that we could reach out and touch them. Swinger allowed human and goose to share a special moment.

Frank slowly steers her toward our dock and he shuts off the motor. We pause a moment in the silence. In a minute, we’ll pull her out onto the trailer and Frank will park her in the woods, where she’ll remain until we know her future. Maybe she’ll get to spend her old age with another family, helping create even more joyful memories.

5 Replies to “Saying Goodbye to Swinger”

Sweet, Amy! I am now feeling sorry for a boat, of all things!

We had a Glastron boat decades ago. 

The Glastron boat served us well.

Deb Gille

She was a gift in so many ways. Leaving you all with many fun memories

Yes, a gift indeed. Thanks for the comment.

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