Today's entry is a guest post written by my brother Carl.
|Doug keeping watch on the crab lines|
|Carl rowing the old dinghy with Fritz navigating|
On one trip at the mouth of the Chester River we were slammed with the typical fast moving Chesapeake squall line with 50 knot winds that whipped up 4’ seas. Mom, Doug, and I were down below hanging on, mostly oblivious to the struggle topsides, while Dad was motoring as fast as he could to duck into a creek for shelter. As we crested a wave, the dinghy painter snapped and he helplessly watched as it drifted away from the boat. He yelled “Carl, get up here, now!” I scrambled on deck, in the driving rain and wind, and he showed me what had happened and said “Put this life jacket on. I’m going to turn this boat around and get right up close to the dinghy. You keep this line in your hand, and when we get close enough you jump into the dinghy. Then weave the line through the stem hole and tie your best knot around the bench seat.”
So I’m 12 years old, and not knowing any better I went along with his plan. And damn if he didn’t get us there, I jumped, and tied, and somehow managed to get BACK in the sailboat - all still in 4’ seas and driving rain. But that’s what sailors do. Dad’s calm and determined demeanor was what made it seem like such a piece of cake. And I like to think that was a coming of age of sorts for me…
|Alex and his friend enjoying the restored El Toro|
Editor's note: Carl told a shorter version of this story as part of Dad's eulogy recently. Later in the day, at the wake, I asked Mom how long it was before she heard the story about Dad putting his 12 year old son into an unsecured dinghy during a thunderstorm. Her answer: "Well, let's see, Carl is 55 now, and he was 12 then, so that makes it 43 years - today was the first time I heard that story! We were closed up in the cabin, so I had no idea what was happening out there that day."
I thought that answer was really amazing.