Thursday, February 12, 2015

From the Pensieve - Memories of Dad - Installment 1

In early February of 2015, my father passed away. In preparing for our remarks at his funeral, my brother Carl and I began putting together short stories of our times boating with Dad. In the interest of preserving these stories, we thought it would be a fun exercise to share them here as a series of blog entries. Over the next several weeks, new installments will appear on occasion.

Some of the earliest memories I have in my life revolve around boating. I know for a fact that I was still in diapers the first time I set foot on a sailboat. From the picture here, it's clear that Dad started out on boats while he was still in diapers as well. It's in the blood. I'm pretty sure that my brother Carl and I both attribute our love of boating and being on the water to Dad's love of the bay and sailing. We spent many happy hours at our grandparents house on Stoney Creek, swimming, sailing, rowing, and just being at the beach.

So, naturally, over the years, I've had a few sailboats of my own. In 2012, Janet and I bought our current sailboat. Soon after the purchase was finalized, Dad, Carl, and I gathered in Annapolis one beautiful Saturday morning to deliver the boat from Annapolis back to our home marina in Pasadena. I had spent the night alone on the boat, in a slip on Ego Alley. Dad and Carl arrived early in the morning and we shoved off for home.

As we sailed the boat up the bay, the three of us took turns at the wheel. It was a perfect day. The kind of day on the bay that just makes you glad to be alive. The breeze was just the right speed, the seas were relatively calm, and the bay was full of sailboats, streaming out of Annapolis - all headed somewhere different, or in some cases, headed nowhere special. Ask any sailor and he will tell you - anytime two sailboats are heading in the same direction, there is a race. We can't help ourselves. There were numerous sailboats headed the same way we were and we had a fun time trying to pass as many of them as we could. The three of us, working together, all experienced sailors, needed few words to communicate the actions being taken. Sail trim and helmsmanship working in concert to glide us along smoothly.

It seemed like every time Dad was at the wheel, the boat went a little faster. At first I thought it was my imagination. So the next time I handed off to him, I checked the speed on the GPS. Sure enough, the speed picked up by almost a knot within a few moments of him taking over. Those of you unfamiliar with sailing may not be very impressed with a 1 knot speed increase, but keep in mind that at a speed of 4 knots, a 1 knot increase is a 25% improvement. 

Over and over, through the rest of the 20 mile trip, I witnessed this same thing whenever he took over. Later, when we were safely docked, I asked Dad about the speed increases that I noticed. He looked at me, winked, and said "I taught you most of what you know about sailing, but I didn't teach you everything *I* know." Maybe someday I will figure out what he was doing.