I can’t think of a better way to start an Austin day than with a water skiing session.
Water sooths my soul, and getting out on the lake and using my muscles jolts me awake. Plus, my husband Chris and I go early, so instead of other people, we get to mingle with swans, ducks and turtles that are just waking up. It’s our private time, before the bustle of the day begins and we have to face our real lives.
Chris already owned a boat when I met him 24 years ago. (Not the same one.) I’d skied once or twice growing up but didn’t really know how to ski hard. Then, when I turned 40, a friend who was a former state champion skier took me under his wing. We spent a summer practicing, and by September I could run a slalom course, a series of buoys set up so skiers can weave through them.
Today, Chris and I keep our 1998 Ski Nautique on our driveway in Allandale and tow it to Walsh Landing on mornings we want to ski.
At 19 feet and 6 inches long, our boat is small by comparison to other boats on Lake Austin. With an inboard, direct drive motor, it’s designed to create as small a wake as possible so a skier can zip across it without changing body position. Most speed boats on the lake these days are designed to create a big wave suitable for surfing. That’s bad for us – when a surf boat goes by, we wait for the water to settle so we can ski. You can’t water ski over waves.
That’s why we get up early, and ski as the sun rises.
We’re efficient – it takes about 10 minutes to get to the boat ramp from our house, and another 5 minutes to launch. Chris backs the truck and trailer down into the water, and I back the boat off the trailer into the lake. (When we’re finished Chris hops off to get the truck, and I drive the boat back onto the trailer from the lake.)
We ski for an hour or a little more most days. That’s just enough time for each of us to get in two or three solid runs, with bonus time for parking in Bull Creek cove or beneath Mount Bonnell to skinny dip before we head in. I love the feel of water on my naked body.
We ski at least once a week during the warm months, and here in Austin those warm months last a very long time. Last year I made my last run in early November, just as trees were turning color and the lake steamed like a hot cup of tea.
If you’re driving over the Pennybacker Bridge early on a Sunday, look onto the lake. If you see a small boat pulling a skier, it might be me.
I’m the one with the big grin on my face.