The Three Mile Experience


The day we had patiently waited for finally arrived. It was our second annual fishing trip to Three Mile Lake, down around Afton, Iowa. My brother, a friend and myself planned to spend the whole day on the lake, fishing out of my Bass Tracker.

The lake is known for its good sized crappie and walleye, and has acres and acres of underwater structures which make for some of the best fish habitat in Iowa. It only takes about an hour to get there from my house, but that’s plenty of time to be thoroughly stoked with excitement! As the boat is unhooked from the trailer and dropped into the lake, everyone’s adrenaline is so pumped anticipating that first strike, that first hit, and ultimately, that first fish, we could just about walk across the lake without the boat. 

Just about. 

It was a beautiful morning! We had arrived early enough to be on the lake at sunrise. One of my favorite things to do is get out on a lake real early in the morning so I can watch and listen as the animals, birds, AND fish start their day. 

What an experience! 

Little did we know, before the day was done we would have an experience none of us would soon forget.

“Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me.” (Psalm 69:1-2 NLT)

“Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it…” (Song of Solomon 8:7a NLT)

As I said, it was a beautiful morning; kind of chilly, but beautiful. Later in the afternoon we’d be roasting as the temperature would climb to 101 degrees! But when all you’re thinking about is the “big one”, some things are simply overlooked.

Or forgotten!

Allow me to step away from this story for a brief moment to ask a question. Why do bad things happen to good people? Ever wonder about that? Well, I can tell you why MOST of the bad things happen to good people (and bad people): people, good or bad, don’t always pay attention to what they’re doing, or SUPPOSED to be doing.

Okay, back to the story.

After an hour or two of trolling, and catching only a few small fish, the wind and the waves started to pick up. But, hey, that’s fishing! So, we didn’t pay much attention. 

We stopped fishing around noon, docked the boat, and went ashore to have lunch with some other friends who met us there. About an hour passed by, and when we ran out of food and fishing stories, we climbed back into the boat. 

Time to REALLY get serious!

Did I tell you the wind and waves were picking up?

After a while, because I’d used my trolling motor so much in the morning, I was down to just a bit of a charge. So, to conserve the battery, we decided we’d let the wind push us along. 

We’d been drifting and driving, driving and drifting, for a couple of hours when, all of a sudden, the wind blew my favorite fishing hat off my head and into the lake. Rats! I quickly told the others to bring their line in, we’re going after my hat.

As I hurriedly cranked my line in, somehow it snagged something on the transom; probably the motor. I told my brother to switch places with me and I’d get it unsnagged. 

We were about to have something bad happen to us, due largely to my impatience. I really wanted to retrieve my hat!

By the way, Bass Tracker’s are very difficult to sink. 

However, if one doesn’t pay attention to the water build up in the bilge, is in too big a hurry to make sure the boat is balanced correctly, and allows himself to be flustered to the point of confusion; well, let’s just say we came very close to losing everything that day.

Deep was definitely calling to deep!

We were about 10 minutes from the dock. Instead of bailing the water out enough to get the stern out of the water, I decided to make for the dock. Almost made it; got within 10 feet and the motor quit. 

My motor was water logged.

The other two jumped off into the water; one went for the trailer while the other held on to the rope clamped to a cleat on the boat. When secured, I then climbed into the lake. 

By this time, the back half of the boat was submerged, the gas tank was floating on top of the water, and our fishing tackle and snacks were drifting away from the boat. Every compartment was full of water, including the battery boxes. 

The trailer was slowly backed down the ramp, but because the boat was about to go completely under, we couldn’t let it get very far from the shore. So we put the bow on the trailer, winched it up a little, backed up a little more, winched again, and repeated the process until the boat was completely on the trailer. I pulled the plug, turned on the bilge pump, and let the boat drain, while parked on the ramp, for at least 30 minutes.

What a mess!

But it could have been a lot worse!

“He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
he drew me out of deep waters.” (Psalm 18:16 NLT)

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” (Isaiah 43:2 NLT)

God saved us, in spite of my stupidity. 

Maybe stupidity is the wrong word. Perhaps words like lack of attention to critical details, or wrong priorities, and maybe an unbalanced load would work better.

Thinking about this experience, the Lord reminded me that a lot of people have the same “sinking feeling”, but without the boat. They don’t pay attention to critical details in their lives, such as a water build up. Their priorities are out of whack; too much attention to pleasing self (gotta get the big one). And unbalanced in life; too much work, or too much play, or, well, you know, too much. 

When you’ve taken on too much water, just the slightest bit of extra weight in the wrong place can spell disaster.

We finally got the boat home. Exhausted, but very thankful for God’s help. 

I’ve learned some valuable lessons about boating because of that day. And I’ve learned a few more lessons about life. 

Some say experience is the best teacher. Possibly, if you live through it. 

Maybe you’ll learn from my experience. Take care of your life, pay attention, don’t just focus on your wants and needs, and let God show you how to balance things out.

Jesus is the balance we all need, and the experience we all desire.

“Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death.” (Psalm 68:20 NLT)

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