Dave and the Mule

Life in camp in never boring, yet not too stressful most of the time!


UNLESS you have someone who just doesn’t “get it” as in, truly understands the environment, responsibilities, and has common sense and the ability to problem solve.

We are not that fortunate with Ralph! I will use a false name, not to protect the innocent, because he’s totally guilty – LOL!!

Mind you, this person (Ralph) states they feel they are “on top of it” and have a “great work ethic”.

So… the other day, Ralph decided to ride to town with the foreman from one of the crews here. In a fast boat it’s a 2 ½ to 3 or more ride. The foreman takes one of the 4X4’s down as his transportation from camp to the dock, unloads and parks it at the top of the ramp on high ground.

Ralph take his little Mule, a simple yet effective run around vehicle with a dump bed and cab, down to the dock, unloads his things and leaves it on the dock. In Neutral, no brake, and puts a board in front of the UPHILL tires facing the bank.

You can see where this is going, right??

Next morning, Dave goes down to the dock to check the boats, like he always does, and notices that the Mule is not on the dock, yet we didn’t see it up at Ralph’s house late the night before and weren’t sure if they came home or not. So… he begins to wonder! He looks around, nope not on the land, not at the house, NO….it couldn’t be… seriously?? You gotta be kidding!! He walks over to the edge of the dock and looks into the water. SURE ENOUGH!! There is the Mule, sitting on its butt, face to the surface, just waiting for someone to notice!!


Now this would be crazy enough IF Ralph hadn’t ALREADY sunk the Company FAST BOAT ($100,000 min) into the same bay, off the same dock, not 6 months earlier!! AND he’s STILL HERE – go figure!

So, second machine, same guy, same problem! Ok… you can laugh…we couldn’t help ourselves!

Later that afternoon we heard the boat coming back and so headed down to help them bring supplies up to camp, being as ONE mule was rather to wet to use!

We get down to the dock, they already have almost everything unloaded onto the dock, and Ralph is TOTALLY OBLIVIOUS to the face that the Mule isn’t there! Smiling and happy to be back. We let him revel in that for a few minutes and then David asked, Hey Ralph, wonder where your Mule is???

Oh yeah, he says, looking around. David says – You might want to look over here – pointing to the edge of the dock.

Oh No! I put a block under the tires! The FOREMAN (who’s been here a week!) says quietly, the dock slopes down in a minus 3 ft tide!


(Later Ralph says to David, I think you should have pulled me aside and told me privately about the Mule, not in front of everyone.) Ok, you can start laughing again.

We load up the back of our Mule and take things up to camp for them. Ralph had to walk home and later says to David, I had to walk back up, you could have given me a ride. I’m thinking… Ralph you should be walking from now on!! LOL

David’s mind has been going since he found the Mule taking a swim. He already has a plan to get it out.

We go down to the dock at low tide and Ralph joins us there. While David is getting everything in place, literally, meaning moving two boats, ropes, chains, hooks, and starts to hook up the Mule, Ralph shares his plan to get the Mule out. He’s gonna hook onto the Mule with a rope from the TOP of the Ramp with the backhoe and pull it out – while it’s sitting straight up and down off the front of the dock.

Poor David has had it at this point. He just says “that won’t work, you’ll just pull it apart.” And that’s the last word we hear from David.



He hooks it up at Low tide and waits for High tide to start the move. The goal is to slowly and gently maneuver it over as close to the bank as possible, hoping to get it to roll onto it’s wheels and not it’s top, and then be able to hook the chain he’s fastened on the front axel of the Mule to the other chain hanging off the Excavator parked at the top of the landing. Yes, he had to go get the excavator and get that all set up too!



So, we wait….

At about 2:00 pm we go back down to get things in place. High tide is 3:30. I watch as Dave carefully maneuvers the huge excavator precariously close to the edge of the bank, slowly and carefully testing the stability while moving the bucket with the long chains out over the rocks as far as it can go. Aiming for a deep pocket just the other side of the biggest rocks holding the bank.

He's hoping to pull the mule slowly rather than just ram it around with the boat motor, he runs the shore line from the front of the Tug (the big boat) to a huge log he has on the beach. So, jump in the skiff, run to shore, jump or lean out, hook things up, jump back in, run to the tug (big boat) pull the line tight. Leave the little skiff running and tied up to the big boat to manage the current and jump from one to the other to keep from running onto the rocks!

Pull, jump, gun the skiff, pull, stop pulling, panic a little, watch the mule twist and turn under the stern, curse, pull a little more, jump onto the tug, jump back onto the skiff, stop pulling…. YIKES



The current is getting too much, gotta use the engine on the tug AND the skiff to push the tug away from the rocks, looking for that deeper spot. The tide keeps coming in, the mule keeps getting hung up, the boat keeps drifting, the diesel smell keeps getting stronger, the silent cursing gets thicker!

Because I DON’T completely understand the plan, remember this is done in the head, not completely shared as it’s not my plan…I tend to ask questions… that increases the silent cursing I’m sure! The answers are short and to the point, I’m starting to get it.

So glad I’m just the rope puller, don’t give me a bigger job as I’m afraid I’d sink something too – LOL



4 ½ hours later, the Mule, with a little current, rock, and heavenly help, turned onto its wheels and the Tub pushed/pulled it onto a rocky spot close to the chains from the Excavator. SO, back into the skiff, hang off the front, hook up the chain and get out of the way before one of the boats drifts off again.



Once it was hooked up, I was instructed to GENTLY let the rope on my side ease off as he matched with the rope on his side of the tug, and we watched it settle to the rocks, mind you it’s STILL underwater.

After getting both boats redocked and tied up safely, off to the excavator Dave goes. Balancing the bucket, weight of the Mule and location of the Excavator, he expertly and slowly drags the Mule to the bank. I called that the Red-Carpet Roll.



We couldn’t pull it up to camp with the other Mule as the road is to steep, so we went and got one of the big trucks and pulled it all the way to Ralph’s driveway and pushed it up to his porch.

We NEVER Saw Ralph that entire day! He didn’t come down to the dock to help (probably a VERY good thing), and he didn’t come out when we pushed it into his driveway. It was at least 2 or 3 days before they spoke…wonder why… and wonder where it will go from here.

So, would you keep Ralph on the books?? Miraculously he managed to get the Mule running again. Not sure how LONG it will run after being in salt water for 3 days – but I don’t plan on buying it anytime soon!!