Time For Another Idyllic Boating Adventure On The High Seas


Ah, summer! Idyllic days spent lolling in hammocks, reading trashy books poolside and being forced to accompany one’s husband on his boat.

Oh, I know I’m whiny. It’s just that these outings take so long. I have things to do — landlubber things that don’t involve my being trapped on a vessel surrounded by water and miles away from my car.

Except this time, it wasn’t going to be so bad. This time, it was going to be a “short cruise” — maybe three hours — with my grandchildren, their parents, and some eager, newly married visitors from Poland. I got into my costume — excuse me, “yachting apparel” — and off we went.

My husband, Mark, was all excited. First, he loves seeing me in a swimsuit, lacy cover-up, sandals and a wide-brim hat. He initially thought this was whom he was marrying. I warned him at the time, it was not. However, on this day at least, it appeared to be so. A man can dream, can’t he? Second, after nearly a year of work, he was finally able to take the grandkids (and others, a group!) out for a boat ride.

So, I stood on the dock and sweetly called out, “Permission to come aboard, Captain?” Which, to me, is totally ridiculous, and, to him, is Boating 101.

Permission granted. Darn it.

No, I am being overly dramatic. Everyone was chattering happily as they trundled aboard, picnic baskets in hand, wine bottles already chilling in the (new, expensive) on-board fridge. And the day was really perfect for being on the water, even I have to admit that. We glided along serenely, feeling quite posh actually, with Mark eventually steering toward an alcove and stopping so our guests could fish.

When he got the engine going again, however, he saw that he had lost his ability to steer. Something had happened during that brief interlude (nobody knows what), and we could no longer veer left or right when home base was an awful lot of lefts and rights away. We sat for hours, bobbing and baking in the suddenly not-so-perfect sun, eventually retreating to the air-conditioned “salon” (basement) to do the 500-piece puzzle that I had brought along because I always expect disaster. My motto: “Be Prepared… For Trouble.”

As I listen to Mark tell it now, the “auto-pilot gear… gibberish… cable slipped off the quadrant… gibberish… chain off its sprocket… gibberish… auto-pilot bent the quarter-inch metal bracket holding the pulley… gibberish… could only use the bow thruster.”

Yet, thanks to Village of Wellington schools, my daughter graduated from the University of Florida as a top mechanical engineer. She and her husband Greg (mechanical engineering master’s degree, Duke University) managed to figure out a way to manually steer using two chunks of lumber, together with the manly athletic prowess of Bartek the Polish Guy (IT degree, Krakow University).

With Mark hollering out “Left!” “Right!” “Straight!” and being echoed on down the line by the grandchildren toward the men in the lazarette (sub-basement), the boat haltingly made it back to the dock just before nightfall with no further damage and no injuries. Idyllic.

Upon disembarkation (“Permission to flee the vessel, Captain!”), my 11-year-old grandson took my hand, looked earnestly into my face and said, “Grandma, I just don’t understand why you don’t like this boat.”

Must be a guy thing.