Theft comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sometimes it's seemingly insignificant and sometimes it's a major crime. No matter what kind it is it's usually devastating and leaves the victims feeling violated and unable to trust anyone again. They feel ashamed, guilty and sometimes plain silly. There comes a time in nearly everyone's life when he or she might fall victim to to theft, and make no mistake, no one is immune.
Darren was a successful businessman. Through a lot of hard work and dedication, he turned his sales agency from a prosperous venture to a major player in the agricultural industry. He built up and branched from one dealership to over a dozen branch houses, some of which were doing as much in annual sales as the home base. From his business ventures he accumulated a substantial personal fortune. That enabled him to indulge in some of the finer things in life.
A luxurious mansion in an upscale neighborhood; fancy cars, motorcycles, airplanes, a luxury cabin on Whitefish lake; trips all over the world. A fancy boat...
Sometimes Darren was not merely satisfied with having fancy and sometimes powerful toys; he had to have the fanciest, or the most powerful, or both. He had his Porsche sports cars and he had them souped up to give him an edge over anyone who might want to challenge him. He bought a ski boat that was powerful enough to pull half a dozen trick skiers, or pull a couple of adventurous fliers to the stratosphere. But that wasn't enough; he must have had a neighbor at the lake who had a more powerful boat than he had so he wasn't to be outdone. I might add that Darren tried a bit too hard to keep up with his competition and ended up with some loud squeaking noises coming out of the engine compartment.
Darren showed up, boat in tow, at JC's shop. "I want you to rebuild that engine, and while you're at it, make it into a fire-breathing monster!" Darren ordered JC. "I want the fastest boat on the lake!"
"You got it," JC responded then side-lined everything else to get the crew going to first pull the ailing engine and then see what could possibly be done while keeping some degree of reliability. He got on the phone and talked with several engine builders and finally decided to get an engine specially built for what Darren wanted.
The engine showed up around three weeks later, much to the surprise of JC. It didn't take all that long to get it installed and tuned. Of course the next step was to take it to the nearby irrigation reservoir where they could put it through its paces and tune it to perfection. It was a blistering hot day and JC invited the crew to come along for the testing. And make sure you bring your swimming trunks, skis and life vests. Oh yes, your wives and girlfriends are welcome to come along too.
That boat was impressive. JC had driven it and skied behind it with the original engine and this new one really made that 28 foot monster go. The boys spent an entire Saturday skiing, tubing, wake-boarding and having a great time. The day ended all too quickly and the boat had to be loaded up and delivered.
Darren wasted no time at all, taking his family and friends back to the same reservoir the next day and he was very impressed, something that he seldom showed to anyone. I might add that he didn't waste any time settling on the job, which confirmed how satisfied he was.
Well, the next place to go was back to Whitefish Lake. Darren hitched up the boat and headed right down to his place. He launched the boat and he and some friends spent an hour or so seeing just how fast that boat could go. Finally convincing everyone that he had the fastest boat on the lake, he dropped his friends off then headed over to his own private dock where he tied up and covered the boat for the night.
It was a calm, quiet summer night. The gentle lapping of the waves against the shore; a light rustle of the breeze through the upper tree branches and occasionally the far-off call of a loon. In the distance one could hear the sounds of the town of Whitefish but otherwise everything was as quiet as it could be.
The next morning, Darren was up early. The only thing on his mind was to take that new toy of his for another frolic across the lake. He was as excited as a kid at Christmas and could hardly contain himself. As soon as breakfast was over, he bounded out the door and raced for the dock.
He only ran a few paces when he suddenly stopped, and fairly gaped at the empty dock. His beloved new toy was gone! Someone had stolen it during the night.
One thing I didn't mention before was that Darren was a hothead. Maybe a touch of small-man syndrome as well, but when Darren didn't get his way, he exploded and all but threw a tantrum, which fell miraculously short of a child flopping around like a freshly landed trout. I'm sure someone in Kalispell, some twenty miles to the south, heard Darren's wrathful commentary, which, would make that average sailor blush.
He phoned the sheriff and no doubt gave the poor deputy an earful. Whatever, everything else on the sheriff's to-do list had to be sidelined in order to find out who had stolen Darren's boat. The sheriff himself, drove to the scene of the crime.
After a barrage of pointed comments about the incompetence of the local law enforcement, the sheriff was able to begin his investigation. He headed down to the end of the dock, the place where the boat was last seen. He saw the heavy hooks where the mooring ropes were still attached, their supposedly severed ends dangling in the water. Squinting in the early morning light, the sheriff gazed off across the lake; then he took his field glasses and began to examine the lake and surrounding shoreline a little more carefully. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, he re-focused his attention on where the boat was last seen.
He gazed at the mooring ropes then reached down to pull them out of the water. Then he realized that those ropes weren't merely dangling in the water; something heavy was attached to them.
It doesn't matter how watertight a boat is, being a watercraft, it will accumulate a certain amount of water in the lower hull or bilge. When a person goes out to start his boat he usually switches the bilge pump on to get the water pumped out and back into the lake where it belongs. Most boats are equipped with a rubber stopper at the lowest point in the rear of the transom so whenever the boat is brought out of the water, you simply pull the stopper and let the hull drain. Then you always put it back into the hole and pop the latch overcenter to keep it in place.
When Darren finished his frolic with his family at home, he loaded the boat and removed the stopper in typical fashion to drain the accumulated water. Unfortunately he got into such a hurry he forgot to reinstall it when the draining was finished. When he launched the boat in Whitefish Lake, he never thought about it. Driving the boat at speed across the lake would actually siphon the water out of the hull but the moment he shut it down for the night, the water came back in--quickly.
The boat was still moored to the dock; it just happened to be about five feet under the surface of the lake....