Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,' he went on dreamily: `messing--about--in--boats; messing-----about in boats--or WITH boats, `In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not. Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?'
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
In our former life we were boat owners. They say the two happiest days of a boat owners life is when he buys the boat and when he sells the boat. In between, there are mostly good memories. We started with a 22 foot S2 sailboat, quickly outgrew it and moved to a 28 foot O'day. We then bought a boat big enough to live on, a 40 foot Endeavor cruising sailboat. We sold our home in Michigan and headed south. Our trip took us down Lake Michigan into the Illinois River and down the mighty Mississippi. At Cairo, Illinois we turned left to follow the Ohio River to Paducah, Ky. We then turned right to head down the Tennessee River, which took us to the Tenn Tom Waterway. Countless locks later we entered the Mobile River which took us to Mobile, Alabama, and on to Florida. There we decided that a 40 foot sailboat was not the best choice for a family with four kids. So we sold the sailboat and bought a slow cruising trawler, a Gulfstar 43. We kept this boat for 8 years and finally sold it when the kids were in college and we no longer had time to use it. I think it is safe to say that our children have more family memories about boating, both good and bad, than almost anything else.
A year ago April we were privileged to spend 10 days on a small boat cruising the Canal Du Midi in Southern France with our friends Bob and Linda. This only served to cause the glowing embers to reignite. I had forgotten how much fun it was to simply "mess about in a boat". In spite of rainy days, toilets that didn't function well, and cramped sleeping arrangements, we had a great time. Bob and I got to play Captain, and Linda and Judy were our able first mates. We learned how to navigate the locks quickly and showed our fellow boaters on the canal, Italian and French, that the Americans knew how to handle a boat.
Why do I tell you all this. Well, we are staying on the Olympic Peninsula right now with lots of water and boats nearby. I must tell you the siren call of the sea is strong and loud. I think Judy is hoping we can hold out for a couple more weeks until it is time to leave. We poured gasoline on the still smoldering fire when we went to the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend yesterday. Wandering the docks brought back lots of great memories. Then Judy reminded me about bottom paint, zincs, bilges, barnacles, and taking care of teak. I hate teak!! Oh well..... it's fun to dream a little. My grandson Nemo has promised me that when he grows up and is rich and famous he will buy Grandpa a new trawler. "Nemo, I am counting on you" and don't forget the hull should be dark navy blue and no teak.