The wind was whipping up froth off the white caps in the San Juan arm of Lake Powell. It took more than the usual attention to keep the fifty nine foot houseboat on a straight path. I was enjoying the ride and the scenery when I heard someone ask about Mac.
"Has anybody seen Mac?"
Photo taken at Lake Powell
Mac is a little black Scottie dog. Several minutes passed while several of our group of twelve folks searched the houseboat for Mac. Mac was nowhere to be found. The search intensified and the conclusion reached that Mac had gone overboard. I flagged down Jerry, driving our ski boat, who had reappeared from a search for a spot to beach the houseboat for the night.
"Mac is gone! He must have gone overboard. Let a few people get on the boat with you, and see if you can find him."
Jerry pulled the ski boat up to the houseboat and we pulled him alongside. Confusion reigned as everyone realized the urgency, but no one got onto the boat with Jerry.
"Get Pat onto the ski boat. Itís her dog!"
"Where are the binoculars? Someone help hold the ski boat."
The wind was now blowing the houseboat toward the rock walls of the canyon. I had to get the houseboat turned into the wind and out away from the rock walls or the problem would become much more serious."Whoeverís going with Jerry has to do it now. Iíve got to get the houseboat away from the canyon wall."
Several people climbed into the ski boat. Now, itís probably appropriate to point out that Jerryís "ski boat" is ordinarily used as an ocean going fishing vessel and is powered by two big outboards. There was plenty of room for Macís rescuers. Not only that, but Michael and Judy had untied the jet ski and took off in pursuit of Mac as well.
I turned the houseboat back up the San Juan as Jerryís boat disappeared back the way we had come. I was overcome with a feeling of hopelessness for the little dog. I concentrated on battling the wind as my mind worked on the little dog. If he did manage to swim to shore, and if he did manage to find some shore line that wasnít a sheer rock wall, he would probably climb out, and head in whatever direction he was pointed. Cheryl & I used to own a Scottie, and whenever she got disoriented and couldnít see us, she just started running in whatever direction she was facing. I prayed that Mac didnít have this failing.
My thoughts were interrupted by screaming. I thought that the ski boat had returned with Mac. No such luck. Cheryl ran up to the front of the boat screaming that the air mattresses had blown off the roof.
Now if you have ever been on a houseboat, you just might know that the best place to sleep is on top of the houseboat. The night sky and the cool air are very compelling reasons. However, you need a good queen size air mattress. I turned the houseboat to see all three of ours skipping on the water like stones bounced by a strong armed teenager. There was no way that I could catch those mattresses with the houseboat.
Already disheartened by the loss of Mac, I turned the houseboat back. Now a new dimension entered. We had two little girls on board, and they were scared to death by all the screaming and new commotion. They had already been silently crying because Mac was lost, and now they were almost hysterical. I reassured them that we would get the mattresses, and, besides, Mac was much more important.
"Donít worry about the air mattresses. Your grandpa will be coming this way in a little while, and he will get the mattresses. Just say a prayer for Mac. We are going to find him."
The girls began to quiet down as I talked to them about prayer and the power of prayer. Now I said a prayer myself as we followed the rapidly disappearing air mattresses. I was more concerned about finding a site to beach the boat for the night before we used too much of our gas. The houseboat had two tanks, each one holding one hundred and forty five gallons. But the generator ran off the port engine, and had taken that one down to a quarter tank over the past two days. I knew that I could motor back to the Dangling Rope Marina on the starboard engine if I had to, but all that didnít matter much at this point. I thought about the sadness and gloom if Mac wasnít found.
Then I saw an amazing thing. The air mattresses had blown into a bend in the river where they were just sitting. I could go past them and someone could pick them up as we turned back into the wind.
Everything went well as we approached the wayward mattresses. They seemed to be just sitting in an air pocket next to a sheer rock wall. Both Al and Cheryl were on their knees leaning over the edge, waiting for me to get the houseboat alongside.
Now, it got funny. Just as we reached the mattresses, a gust of wind hit the houseboat from behind. It didnít affect the houseboat at all, but it blew Cherylís blouse over her head. Fortunately, Al was able to grab the first mattress. Cheryl wasnít of much help, because she could only see the inside of her blouse. I wonít say what I could see, but itís good Al didnít or he might have missed the mattress.
Cheryl scrambled to her feet and pulled her blouse down.
"Here come the other mattresses."Al managed to grab both and handed them to Cheryl
Now we had the mattresses, and we could get back to feeling bad about little Mac.
"Theyíll never find him," moaned Melissa. "We lost Mac." Big sobs.
I went to work convincing the girls that we were going to find Mac. They only had to pray. I knew that by this time, the question about Mac had been settled. I felt confidence in all the praying. It was time to find a spot to beach the houseboat.
We continued up the San Juan for about another hour at our plodding rate of about 8 miles per hour. Finally, we came into a large bay with green on the opposite side. I headed the houseboat toward what looked a beautiful site. The wind let up. The sun was out. Why did I still have that sinking feeling about Mac?
As we got closer to the spot that I had seen, It was apparent that we had hit the jackpot. We were all alone, and the surrounding area was spectacular. The beach was sandy, the water was deep enough for the slide, and the spot looked promising for fishing. We only needed Mac.
We got the houseboat onto the shore and firmly anchored. I donít sleep well at night unless I am sure that no amount of wind will take the houseboat off the beach. I knew I wouldnít sleep at all if they didnít show up with Mac. We all sat at the aft end of the houseboat waiting for Jerry and Michael.
"Here comes Jerry!"
"Does he have Mac?"
We had to wait. They were too far away to see anything. I was encouraged to see them. I figured that they would keep searching until they found Mac or darkness threatened. It was a long way from dark. They had to have Mac.
Finally they were within shouting distance. They were shouting at us.
"How did you guys get so far?"
Easy for them to say. They were occupied with finding Mac while we worried ourselves sick. We had lots of time to get the eight to twelve miles while they were chasing us.
"Never mind that. What about Mac."
"Macís here. Heís fine. He acts like nothing happened."
I have never felt such a sense of relief. I couldnít help but think of what the rest of the trip would have been like if we hadnít found Mac.
But it was all behind us now. Mac was here, and sure enough he acted as if it was all much ado about nothing.
Jerry explained that Mac had managed to fall overboard in an area where he could swim to shore and climb out. He had made it the forty or so yards to shore through the white caps and climbed up onto the shore. They had spotted him trotting up a ledge toward the canyon wall. I wondered if we would ever have seen him if he had reached the top. I somehow couldnít imagine Mac sitting down and waiting for us to come back for him.
"If he had fallen overboard almost anywhere else, he probably would have had to swim until we found him. There was not a lot of shore where he could have managed to get out of the water. The canyon walls are generally vary steep in that area."
Prayer does things!
Needless to say, we watched Mac like a hawk for the rest of the trip. It was easy to see how he fell overboard. The little dog was fearless. If he couldnít get from the back of the houseboat to the front because of a door or screen, he would just jump into the water, swim to shore and climb up the ramp. If he was at the front and wanted to get to the back, he would walk along a narrow runner along the port side of the boat. We think that is what he was doing when he fell in. We kept that blocked with an ice chest, but we still found him out there occasionally. While we were under way, Jason kept him on a leash.
Everyone on the trip agreed that no one had a better time than Angus Lochlan Macintosh.
Cheryl welcomes Angus Lochlan Macintosh
back to the houseboat
after his "Great Adventure"