Monday, August 25, 2008


A morning at Baker's Beach: Zero dollars

Lunch from Lees: Twenty dollars

A sail through Westport Harbor aboard Ruddy Rye: Priceless

What a fantastic Saturday I had. While it started off with a huge headache thanks to a bit of over indulgence from Friday night, we managed to hit the beach by 10am. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. Even the life guard mentioned it was a 10. Una had her usual fun at the beach, although was not interested in getting into the water above ankle depth. She was content climbing on Nana and digging in the sand.

After the beach it was time for lunch and a grocery run was in order. More about the grocery run and reason later.

I'm sure you're not interested in my every hour recap of my weekend life, but I wanted to set the stage for the last half of the day. Plus, you can't play on the MasterCard theme without providing at least some details of the events.

Anyway, Gramps two years ago purchased a small sailboat at the Mass. Maritime Academy's yearly auction. He was able to launch the boat last year, but because of a failed engine, never really got to sail the boat. This past Fall and Winter, along with this Spring, Gramps has been diligently scraping, painting, re-fiberglassing, and whatever else it took to get the boat shipshape. He also enrolled and completed a sailing class in New Bedford. Gramps has a passion to learn. He never takes a new endeavor lightly. He is now probably more skilled as a sailor than those with many years of experience. He even baffled his sailing instructor (probably someone half his age) with his questions and knowledge of sailing terminology.

We launched Ruddy Rye about three weeks ago. It was quite an experience as the boat had no motor yet, and the day we launched there was a strong current. (BTW: the pictures shown here are actually from last year's launch.) Regardless, we got the boat docked. Now it was time for Gramps to find the motor that would be necessary if he was ever going to get anyone to sail with him. Two weeks ago he found the motor he wanted and he got it mounted. With the addition of the Town of Westport boat sticker, he now had a legal and legit sailboat ready to ply the harbor. Nana was convinced shortly after the installation of the motor to accompany Gramps on a "motor" run through the harbor. There would be no "sailing" just yet. So, you can imagine that Gramps was chomping at the bit to get on the water under sail. Saturday afternoon was that time and I was the lucky crew.

While I love writing this blog, and I know some enjoy how I write, I know I will not be able to adequately explain just how much Gramps and I enjoyed the inaugural sail aboard Ruddy Rye. I'll do my best just the same.

We motored away from the dock and down river just a bit to an area just off crack rock. During the ride Gramps pointed out the main, the jib, the halyard, the centerboard, etc. Despite my 21+ years in the U.S. Navy, I never took to sailing. I've probably only been on a sailboat three times in my life. The first experience left me blue - I think literally. The second I was more awestruck by the competency of the helmsman as he maneuvered a Shields through the mooring field in Newport Harbor. The third, was a pleasant ride around Newport/Jamestown harbor with our good friends Robin and Marvin, but due to mechanical problems it was mostly motor assisted (a good time none-the-less). Since that last sail Sally and I have purchased our own motor boat and I've become accustomed to the whine of the engine (when it's running, but that's another story which would make this blog way too long). Anyway, Gramps and I reached "Crack Rock". I handed over the main sail halyard and prepared to "hoist the main". He cut the engine, dropped the rudder, and we hoisted the main. Suddenly we were on the move without a sound. We dropped the centerboard and Gramps with tiller in hand, guided us towards the West Branch of the Westport River. As we cruised through the harbor Gramps explained theories of sailing, how to gauge wind direction, etc. We also both just took in the serenity of sailing. Ruddy Rye is only 17 feet in length so it's not a big sailboat. When seated in the boat your almost at water's level. The sounds were simple; the lapping of the waves against the hull, the flutter of the sail as the wind turns from point to point, the chirping of the sea birds who's flight path we were crossing. As Gramps said, "Aren't the sounds great? No engine noises. Is there anything better?" Probably not. It was a truly relaxing way to be on the water. While I was just crew and along for the ride, I could tell Gramps was enjoying his experience as well. He had the added bonus of feeling the boat with tiller in hand. I know it was relaxing for him as well.

We approached the harbor side shoreline and it was time for a tack. Tack we did and Gramps said let's put up the jib. I grabbed the jib halyard and hoisted away. The jib filled with air, and it was like the boat hit 5th gear. As Emeril would say, "We kicked it up a notch". It was really while under said with both the main and the jib that you could feel the power a light wind can create. It was thrilling. Gramps guided us through some beautiful ocean going sailboats. I'm sure they have their pluses in being able to travel to distant places, but I'm hard pressed to think the experience would be any better than the one I was fortunate to experience on Saturday afternoon.

Thanks Gramps. And, Nana the next time Gramps invites you for a sail you should take him up on the offer. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.


I mentioned earlier more about the grocery run. We needed to get all the fixin's for a good New England Clam Chowder. An old boyfriend of Sally's, and now a friend of mine, too, is scheduled for some surgery on Tuesday. I won't go into details, but surgery is a scary proposition. Sally wanted to show her support by having Dan and his wife to dinner on Sunday. She also thought it would be nice to invite some mutual friends to share their support, as well. It was all very last minute. It turned out to just be Sally's folks and Dan. Others wanted to join us, but schedules just did not permit it. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Dan.

My thoughts and prayers are kind of stretched thin right now. The wife of a co-worker of mine is facing some serious medical issues. Steve and Cathy, my thoughts and prayers were out there for you, too.

Any readers of this blog so inclined, please keep Dan, Ginger, Cathy and Steve in your thoughts. I know they'll appreciate it and I will, too.

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