As the 56-year-old Madison resident tells the story, he was fishing for bluegills on Lake Wingra in mid-June of 1999 when a sudden storm capsized his canoe. He nearly went down with it when his foot got tangled in the anchor line, but managed to pull free.
Prieve discovered - fine time - that his lifejacket didn't fit. He clung to it with one hand and paddled with the other. He yelled at some people on a nearby boat launch, but they did not hear him.
"After some time the wind died and I found myself in the middle of the lake," he recalls. "Trying to paddle with one arm, I went in circles. I thought for sure this was the end."
And then the wind changed and blew him back to shore. He emerged from the cattails and began walking toward St. Mary's. A good Samaritan gave him a ride; the doctors at the ER said he had hypothermia and could have died, had he been in the water a few minutes longer.
"For a month after this happened," says Prieve, not clearly in jest, "I wore my lifejacket when washing dishes and taking showers."
Fast-forward to March 11, 2008. That's when a commercial fisherman hired by the DNR to remove carp from Lake Wingra snagged what turned out to be a Sawyer canoe. Ch. 27 was on hand, filming the carp removal; a friend who saw the report called Prieve to say, "I think they found your canoe."
They had. When Prieve called the DNR, he was told the agency was looking for him. His dry bag (ha!) was still attached to the thwart, containing his wallet. The bills had disintegrated, but his laminated driver's and fishing licenses were readable.
Prieve says the DNR told him he was supposed to report the sinking of a boat; he said he had, "but nobody seemed to care." The boat, he was informed, belonged to the finder, per Maritime Law. "That is fine with me," says Prieve, who long ago bought another canoe, like the one he lost. "I'm here to tell the story."