Wednesday, June 6, 2001

Prelude: Early Stirrings

My earliest memories of 'messing around in boats' are hazy memories involving my father and/or grandfather in small canoes or rowboats on inland lakes, usually with fishing as the ultimate goal. I vaguely remember my family renting a houseboat and exploring a chain of lakes in Kentucky one summer.

My brother and I suffered from hay fever in the late summer, and we would routinely get shipped north to spend August with my grandparents at their cottage on Whitefish Bay, on the eastern end of Lake Superior. I remember using the canoe to row along the shore of the lake to beaches on empty lots north or south of the cabin, where we would pretend to be shipwrecked, and build crude shelters out of driftwood, until called home for lunch.

Early movie favorites were rarely safe or encouraging influences, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Swiss Family Robinson, The Poseidon Adventure; involving shipwrecks and sinkings, but the sense of excitement, the adrenaline rush of survival scenarios were quite powerful and inspiring to my young mind.


The first sailboat my wife and I ever set foot on, was a charter boat, the schooner 'Olad' out of Camden, Maine, that we took a short afternoon cruise on one autumn while on vacation, in the late eighties. We were encouraged to help raise the mainsail, but other than that, we were along for the ride. We cruised Camden Harbor, circled the lighthouse island and returned to the docks. A fun experience at the time, but didn't make us run out and become sailors overnight.

In the early nineties, our former employers and friends sold their house, bought a sailboat and spent a year in the Caribbean with their pre-teen daughter and elderly mother, mostly hanging around the Bahamas, and then after the year ran out, they jumped right back into the rat-race, opening a printing business in Virginia. They always talk about it being a wonderful experience, but at the time, it didn't particularly strike a chord with me. Perhaps at that point in my life it sounded a bit far fetched and only for those that were 'fabulously well-to-do'.

During the nineties, in our son's youth, we did quite a bit of backpacking, usually with island destinations, Isle Royale, the South & North Manitou Islands, Drummond Island, Beaver Island, usually involving a prolonged ferry ride (you might also include Isla Mujeres in Mexico and Isle Au Haut and Isleboro in Maine). I enjoy the disconnectedness and isolation of being on an Island, away from all the noise and distractions, the simplicity of fulfilling your basic needs (shelter, food), and despite the occassional misadventure, I remember these being some of my happiest memories of us as a family. Age and time have curtailed our backpacking days, aching bones and out of shape bodies have taken all the fun out of the activity.

On a visit to Key West in the late 90s, I was looking out the window longingly at a number of boats floating around the many islands in the Keys, and my brother-in-law mentioned the fact that with my job, I wasn't necessarily tied down to an office, and there wasn't any reason why I couldn't work from a variety of locations, especially now with wireless connections starting to become more and more common. This started a virus in my head that has grown over the past few years to become a full grown tumor in the shape of a 32 foot sailboat that may or may not end up being a part of our retirement or 'empty nest' plans for the future. Only time will tell.

I intend this blog to be an online version of two diarys that I have been keeping regarding our seagoing misadventures. A 'sailing diary' and the actual 'ship's log' of our 1967 Chris Craft Cherokee, currently based out of Muskegon, Michigan. It may take a while to compile, and I will be backdating and editing older entries in order to maintain a timeline of sorts. I'm not sure if this journey is actually going anywhere, but hang on and try to keep dry.