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The Gearboat Chronicles

Behind the Scenes of the Lost ‘Gearboat’ Footage

The Winding Waters movie label is taking YouTube by storm. A little storm, maybe . . . kind of a dust devil. But, still, our action-thriller, ‘Path of a Gearboatman’ had 150-some-odd views last time I checked. That’s some serious box office, baby.

I can’t help but think the response to this movie would be a full-blown hurricane by now if we still had the pirate-Darth Vader scene. This didn’t make it into the final cut of the movie, which is a real shame because I happen to have seen this extremely rare footage and it was pure movie gold.

You’re going to have to trust me on this because I was running the camera at the time and it turns out the ‘record’ and ‘pause’ buttons are close enough together that things get confusing.

It was a heartbreaker, sitting down to edit the tape, waiting for cinematic history to unfold and, instead, there’s a blurry shot of a coffee table, couch, and somebody’s knee while I was moving the camera around, thinking I’d just turned it off instead of on. What? Who’s knee is that? Run it back . . . where’s Darth? . . . but wait, that is rather an interesting shot of the coffee table. I seem to have a knack for this cameraman thing once I get it turned on.

The lost footage can never be recovered. I guess we could do it again, but that seems like a hassle. So for the sake of history, here is the script from the missing scene:

(note: Mike Baird had an operation on his eyeball recently and has been wearing a black eye patch while it heals. He claims to be growing weary of pirate jokes, but I can’t believe that’s true. My favorite one lately is to pretend to brush something off his shoulder on the side where the eye patch is and say, “What have you been feeding that parrot?”)

The scene opens with Mike and Patrick Baird hunched over a pile of maps. Mike is playing the part of Grey Baird, the grizzled buccaneer.

Grey Baird (pointing at map and talking in a pirate voice): “Patrick, This be Hells Canyon.”

Patrick: “I know, Dad.”

Grey Baird: “This be Wild Sheep Rapids, and here be Granite Rapids . . . a good captain is wise to use caution when passing these waters.”

Patrick: “Dad, I know.”

Grey Baird (shifting to Darth Vader voice): “Patrick, I am your father.”

Patrick: “I know, Dad.”

Yeah, well, it would probably make more sense if you saw it in context. But there’s only one person to blame for that, and that’s whoever designed the buttons on that video camera.

We’re into this video camera thing and looking forward to some helmet-cam action this season. Run the rapids, slide down over the lip of the Green Room when the Snake River is up and charging . . . it’ll be Hells Canyon adventure footage at its finest. But if you want a speaking part in any of those shots, you might want to ride in someone else’s boat. They’re not letting me near that camera.