When I was a young man I worked the docks in Nantucket while I lived on my boat in the harbor. One day I saw a grand old 12 meter come around Brandt Point under full sail. I immediately got on VHF channel 16 and said, “Nantucket Moorings Limited standing by on channel 72.” The ship’s captain soon answered back indicating they would indeed need a mooring for the night. Little did I know how much impact that reply would eventually have on my boating philosophy.
I climbed aboard the company’s homemade plywood skiff with its old Mercury outboard and made my way over to the agreed-upon mooring site. I was coming up broadside perhaps a little too fast, and when I went to drop the engine into reverse, nothing happened. I then jammed the shifter forward to try to free it up. The result instead was that I went full throttle and bow first into what turned out be the 1938 America’s Cup winning boat.
After the impact, I killed my outboard only to realize that my bow had gone inside her hull and that our boats were now stuck together. A dozen or so people with upturned collars and fancy designer sunglasses looked down at me in disbelief and horror. There was total silence; I was terrified.
The boat’s owner, resplendent in khaki pants, blue blazer and straw hat, came over to the rail to assess the situation. The quietness was deafening. Both vessels were now awkwardly drifting through the mooring field — even the seagulls seemed nervous. His gaze shifted from the hole in his beautiful boat to me in my rickety skiff and back.
He spoke just two words, both gently and with respect: “That’s boats.”
That statement pretty much sums up my present boating philosophy. Anything can happen on the water — you just have to have the right calm and attitude when problems come up. Whenever I have an unfortunate experience out there I just say, “That’s boats.”
I have been madly in love with boating ever since and I could never repay that old man for his incredible wisdom.
So! Lets get out on the water and make some memories!