Saturday, June 20, 2009

father's day

I heard Dad coaching me as I backed the boat trailer down the ramp this morning.  "Put your hand at the bottom of the wheel, move your hand the way you want the back of the trailer to go."  He wasn't there of course.  Dad passed away a few years ago.  But I can't launch the boat without hearing him.
He never got to sail Spartina.  His last summer we built the masts and the gaff jaws together.  He couldn't stay around for the launch, yet he is always along with me.  Under the main mast is a Liberty Quarter from 1926 (eagle side up - he was an aviator), his birth year.  As his life-long friend Jim observed, a Liberty Quarter from 1926 is probably worth 25 cents.  A Liberty Quarter from Dad's birth year under the main mast of a boat he helped build......priceless.
I left the ramp and found myself in the thick of the Cock Island Race pre-start.  I had forgotten it was this weekend.  Lots of boats, both racers and cruisers, all bigger than mine.  But I decided to join in with the fun.  I gave myself a headstart of maybe twenty minutes.  The leaders caught up with me soon and I watched the fleet, with full crews and high tech sails, pass by.  
It was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed trying to keep pace with the racers.  Lots of thumbs up, shouts of "beautiful boat!" and well wishes from all the crews.  After rounding the mark the wind picked up and I stayed ahead of the last few boats for a while.  But of course they caught up with me.  
As I rounded to Town Point Reach a boat cut me off at the coal pier.  Maybe they were sailing by the rules of the road, maybe their tactics were appropriate.  But it would have been nice if they had left me a little room so I didn't find myself in irons with a pier just yards to my lee.  Their motive came clear as the boat passed by and the skipper shouted "Thanks for making sure we didn't finish in last place!"  I guess there is room in the world for high-fiving and chest thumping on 35' boats with a crew of six that beat out a 17' 4" home built boat with working sails.  I just didn't know it.
I didn't have the heart to tell them I wasn't registered in the race.  Last place was still firmly in their grip.

Dad would have enjoyed that.

We had a great day on the water.



Albert A Rasch said...

That's a lovely commemoration, Steve.

Best to you on this Father's Day.


Steve said...

Thanks. Steve

Kristen said...

Excellent, entry, Steve. And I can still hear my dad with the same backing advice - though at 88 is still alive and sailing solo up the east coast of the North Island.

Steve said...

Solo sailing at 88! Good for him. That means I may have more than a few years left to sail Spartina!
Dad explained backing trailers to me when I was 16 - can't believe I still hear him now (more than three decades later).