Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The boat story

This was one of the stories I told at my dad's memorial service.

Several months before Nick and I met, he bought a sailboat across the bay. A 25-year old sailboat. With a a 25-year old engine, old sail, old radio, old navigation system.

Old old old. Needed lots of work.

Over the winter, he had a lot of work done on the boat, and he did a lot of work himself. But he was tired of constantly driving over to the Eastern Shore, and he was itching to get his boat in the water. And so finally, in the spring, all the body work had been done, and the boatyard needed the space, and he'd gotten a slip on this side of the bay. So he needed to bring it across.

Now, it didn't have a sail, because the old one was too damaged, and the new one wasn't ready. So he asked my dad if he'd motor the boat - with the old old, one-cylinder engine - across the bay with him.

The deadline was coming up on moving the boat, and the weekend they had to do it was a really cold, crummy one. It was grey and rainy and horrible. But they had to move it.

So my mom and I drove them to the Eastern Shore, dropped them off at the boat, and then we went outlet shopping. For hours. We took our time getting back to this side.

And still, when we got to the marina, there was no sign of them. We tried calling. Nothing. We waited. And waited. And waited.

And finally, they arrived.

Nick's hair was standing up. He looked completely frazzled. My dad was beaming. You can see Nick's forced smile in the photo, and the huge difference in their demeanors.

You see, it started out OK.

And then they got halfway across the bay. To the point where the water is deep enough for the really big boats. I think it's called the shipping channel.

So in the rain and fog, they got to the point where they were in the path of the big boats. And then the engine started smoking. Like, really smoking, in a kind of alarming way.

Now, my husband hates it when I say he was "freaking out" - so I'll just say he "became concerned." At this point, Nick became concerned.

And my dad? My dad said, "Oh, don't worry about it. I'm sure it'll be fine."

The problem was, with no sail, the engine, the old putt-putt engine, was all they had to get across.

And at this point, they realized that the radio had stopped working. As had the navigation system.

And Nick became more concerned. And my dad said, "Oh, we'll be fine."

So Nick handed him the map, and said, "OK, Mike, this is the marina we're headed for. And there's a radio tower next to it. Do you think that's that radio tower?"

My dad looked at the map, looked up, shrugged, and said, "Yeah, sure. It could be."

"Mike! You're the one who was the navigator in the Air Force!"

My dad took another look at the map, turned to Nick, and said, "You know, aerial maps look a whole lot different from nautical maps."

Nick became more, um, concerned.

They arrived, as I said, with Nick looking all frazzled, and my dad in great spirits.

"How was it?"

Nick's reply was that it was a challenge. He needed a drink. My dad said it was terrific.

I will say that when he wasn't the cause of it, my dad was amazing in a crisis.


  1. What a priceless story! "It could be" - that's a fantastic response. The photo is lovely, really puts the story into perspective by looking at Nick's and your Dad's expressions.

  2. Great story. I am always on the lookout for somebody who is amazing in a crisis. I try to learn from them. What a characteristic to have in a father!

  3. This really is a wonderful story. I especially love, "You know, aerial maps look a whole lot different from nautical maps."

    As though that hadn't occurred to either of them before they set out.


  4. i love it! your dad's face says this boat/trip was a GREAT idea! Nick's says omg. i'm selling it now. never again.

    families are fun arent they?

  5. great story! I really - really - love the photo.

  6. This story made me smile :)

  7. What a great story!

  8. What a great story!

  9. HKW - I love the "could be" as well. I'd have seriously been losing my shit. Nick and I would never have gotten married if I'd been on that trip.

    She Likes to Travel - I hadn't thought about that. I realized a few years ago that I'm great in a crisis. I'm hoping not to be tested again anytime soon, but I really am a good one.

    LJ - Thank you! And they probably started out somewhere you know well!

    Lynn - Thank you. :) I really thought about the ones I chose.

    Dagny - I know! Like this was never anything that crossed either of their minds, because it was all just going to work out as planned!

    Sgt. Social Worker - Yah, families are fun. I love the contrast in their faces.

    Hillary - Thank you! I love it, too.

    Beach Bum - I'm glad.

    Cheryl S - Thank you!

  10. What a wonderful memory to have of your dad...for all of you. His true character shining through - those are memories to cherish and smile at. I loved the photo: )

  11. i love this story
    the only thing i love even more is that you have a picture to commemorate it : )

  12. Terrific story, and so lovely that you have a picture that pretty much sums up the whole afternoon. Funny and touching.

  13. From my experience growing up around (old) sailboats, I can say this: never EVER trust an old sailboat's engine. I'd rather have an old sail than an old engine any day. Because even with rips, a sail will move the boat. Engines, not so much.

    Great story!

  14. I concur with all of the above. A wonderful, special story.

  15. This was a great way to end the day, won't need to read any other blogs until tomorrow and I'll go home with a smile on me face. I have three letters for Nick: GPS.

  16. Classic!!
    As someone who has spent a few years in Sailboats ( Auckland is the City of Sails) and who holds a Boatmasters Ticket and a Skippers Licence I can concur with the GPS comment and also a whisper in Nicks ear about an Auxiliary Motor.
    I also certainly hope Nick had Life Jackets and Flares onboard at the time too.
    Being a CoastGuard Volunteer I have fished too many "accidents" out of the water not to know the value of these things and never go out in my own boat without these things. :-)

  17. What a great snapshot of someone's personality. I love the picture of the two of them in their yellow slickers.

  18. Beautiful story, Lisa. Thank you for sharing it. :-D


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