Two years after we moved into a new house, I caved in to my wife’s pleas to go through some of the boxes of stuff I have accumulated over the years, some of which I haven’t looked at since they were hastily thrown in the boxes during the move.
Among the plastic bins is one full of photos, piles of them, unorganized, along with another couple of bins of framed photos and paintings that were hanging in the old house but we have no room for in the new, smaller house. It was while sorting through one of those bins that I found a framed photo of me in my first boat.
In the photo, I’m posing as a jackass (which I have been doing for many years) standing on a boat seat, trying to puff out my chest, hand over my eyes as if I’m scanning the horizon like some seasoned sea captain.
Many things came to mind when I stared at the photo, and not just that I’m about 40 to 50 pounds heavier now and wise beyond my years.
I can’t help but notice the plain 14-foot aluminum boat has neat features in its lines that the newer models don’t have. I remember consulting with my boss, editor of the daily paper for which I was working, asking what he thought I needed in a “starter” boat model. I remember asking my friend, the newspaper photographer, for a loan to buy the boat, motor and trailer.
I remember later, as a new boat owner, going to an auction on Sugar Island to pick up a 1950s-vintage 15 hp outboard, identical to mine, because I figured I’d need it. Boy, did I ever. I had the winning bid on that fully functioning, back-up motor up for the outrageous price of $ 57.50.
I remember my then-girlfriend getting into that boat and letting me take her and all of our camping gear three miles along international waters, in the dark, to spend a few well-earned vacation days lounging on a remote beach and trying to catch fish. She still consented to marry me several months later.
I remember the nickname the girls gave the boat on that day the photo was taken – The Pee Boat – because it was tied behind a friend’s slightly bigger boat and the girls would step into it with a bucket and a beach towel whenever they had to “relieve” themselves.
That was the first boat that was all mine – once I paid off the photographer – even though I’ve been in boats since I was old enough to pick up a paddle. Dad and Mom and our grandparents fueled our outdoor addictions, most of which required boats.
Today, I still long to have at least four or five boats for whatever fits the occasion, and although I’ve owned many boats over the years, I’ve never had that many at the same time.
You need something small to paddle.
Something not quite as small to fit into a duck marsh or remote lake with gear.
Something a little bigger to take some friends to remote places for picnics.
Something even bigger for spending the night, if the weather or the mood dictates.
Really, even among those four “staples,” you could use a couple of watercraft in each of the categories.
These days, I’m down to two boats – small and smaller. That’ll do, for now.
Meanwhile, back to cleaning out another bin full of photos. No wonder it takes me so long.
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