This entire pandemic experience is going to make us better.
In the end, it will all come down to the decisions we make and the way we choose to move forward.
So here’s a story about my father, boats, and holding our course.
My dad served in the Navy when he was young and it was beyond obvious to anyone that ever met him, the impact that his sailing experiences had on him. The Navy had left him with a passion for the water.
From ocean faring on a massive battleship to fishing the local lakes where we grew up, to cruising the mighty and magnificent St. Lawrence River, when we had the time, the water was the place to be. We always had a family boat, from speedy family ski boats to the simplest aluminum fisher. Each boat was bought used, had older model motors and often times after market equipment, but to me, every one of our boats represented the perfect manifestation of proficiency and preparation.
My dad would equip, maintain and prepare a boat like nothing else. His decades old engines were tuned to perfection. The gas tank was rarely below full and the boat was always clean. Safety items were non-negotiable. There were the standard items like life jackets, ropes, lights and oars, but there was also always spare gas, a hand scribbled parts lists and the most reliable item of all - his tool box.
Yet, beyond the nautical gear, tools and gas, was the true mainsail of our boat life; my old man’s presence. The most valuable nautical asset ever in our family boat was the sum and substance of his experiences, interests and curiosities about the waterways. My dad was a student of the entire process. Maybe that’s why we also call a boat a craft.
Regardless of a pleasure cruise, a fishing trip or a simple ferrying of camp supplies, he would read the water and the skies continuously. He would study the depths and the shallows, call out the perpetual landmarks on shore and he always gave the known shoals plenty of berth. He knew when to be on the throttle and when to let her skim. In those rare events where nature defied prediction, I always admired the man’s ability to adjust to the storm and navigate on.
“A ship at harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.”