Messing About In Boats

Don’t you just love looking at boats out on the water? I could watch them all day. The breeze, the waves, the bouncing body skipping across the surface – it’s magical. When I was a little girl, my aunt had a sailboat that she kept under or tied up ready to use next to her dock. She would take us out sailing sometimes. It was wonderful. My father would take us out too, but usually in a row-boat. That was not nearly as fun for him! I was too short to row, so I often sat enjoying the salt water of the bay. He would take us out to a small island in the center of the bay, and we’d look at the horseshoe crabs, occasional jellyfish, seagulls, and seagrass.

One time he took us out before a storm, and we lost both our oars. We were swept violently toward a rocky outcropping when a neighbor saw our distress. He hopped in his speedboat and caught up to us just in time. After throwing us a line, he towed us back home. Another time, Pop took us out at low tide. We walked most of the way to the island we loved to visit. There were only a couple of spots we had to swim across to get there, but since we were fairly good swimmers, it wasn’t a problem. We stayed too long. We lost track of the tides. By the time Pop realized we had to get back, there was no mud left to be seen. As the smallest, I ended up swimming almost the entire way. I thought for sure my arms would fall off. Even Pop had to swim; that was the last time we walked out to the island.

When Mom and I would go camping, we always got a canoe or rowboat too. We preferred the canoe, but if we were stuck with a rowboat, the deal was, I would row, and she would read to me. Everyone loves a good book read to them. If we got a canoe, we would row together to our destination and picnic, usually on a tiny island in the middle of the lake. Looking out from your tent in the morning at the still water mirroring the sunrise, I couldn’t wait to push the canoe off, gliding across the quiet lake with only the gentle plop of the oars hitting the water. We’d follow the loons if we saw one, or sit rocking watching the fish jump up for their morning meal.

The weather in the mountain changes exceedingly quickly, It can be brightly sunny with only cotton ball clouds in the sky, and fifteen minutes later find yourself in the midst of a terrible storm. That’s what happened one year Mom and I were out on the other side of the lake. The sky suddenly turned dark; we hopped in the rowboat to try to race back before the storm hit. The wind had picked up, and there were white caps on the water. The boat was much more substantial than a canoe, and since I was much stronger than Mom, it did no good to try to row with her, we’d have only ended up going in a circle. The wind pushes us way off course, and I couldn’t correct it, I was afraid we would tip, so I got us as close to our site as possible. I banked on a tree lines rocky shore and stabilized the boat long enough for her to get out. I figured I’d make more progress with less weight. She walked as close to the shoreline as she could while I hopped into the water and pulled the boat behind me by the mooring rope. It took ages, but we finally arrived at our spot. Collapsing in the tent, too exhausted to start a fire, I vowed never to get a rowboat again.

Despite the occasional misadventure, boating is still one of my absolute favorite past times, and summer is the best time for watching boats. I can see the water from all over my home, and though I’m not close enough to smell the salty air on most days, I still love watching the sailboats glide by, the jets skis jumping over the waves, the motorboats cutting crisscrossed lines around the bay. It’s beautiful. It’s soothing. There indeed is nothing like “messing about in boats.”

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