It was a birthday present, originally. Grams Fox had purchased the 1978 Alcort Sunfish from a friend in her swimming class at the local YMCA. Technically a sailing dinghy, this little guy was complete with a racing cleat and plenty of gusto for the gusts (oh!).

The summer we spent together blew by much too quickly. After a shakedown cruise and a few other brief trips around Ottertail together, September was already upon us. The weather that month had been unseasonably warm. Deciding that streak of good weather would hold out until the very day we closed down the cabin, I opted to leave the sunfish resting comfortably on her lift until the last day of the season.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. The gales of November came early and stole my little Sunfish right of her lift. Strapped on to the lift with bungee cords, she fought the powerful crests of the whitecaps all she could. Ultimately, it was to no avail. My sunfish was ripped in two by the force of the waves and dashed against the rocks.

 It was my father who discovered the wreckage later the following evening. He jumped into the water to salvage what he could, but the damage had been done.

The rest of the family joined my father at the cabin later that weekend, and we all pitched in on the cleanup effort. Lacek and Dad crushed the remains of the boat to be hauled off to the dump while the rest of us scoured the shoreline for bits of debris that had washed into the neighbors’ shorelines.

That water was COLD!

Out of all this, we learn that the lake gods giveth, and the lake gods taketh away. For the time being, at least, I can find console in the fact that although my boat is no longer useable, it will still be properly licensed in the state of MN for another two years.

But, the real kicker of the death of the sailboat was this, my friends. As I waded in the icy, waist-deep water collecting the twisted remains of this summer’s memories, I found something that made me want to laugh and cry all at the same time. In exchange for the Sunfish, the lake gods had left me a present. 

A single dollar bill lying soggy, sandy,  and lifeless at the bottom of the lake.