Thursday, October 02, 2008

Talk Thursday - Bail Out

Talk Thursday: Bail Out

Through out my childhood there was always an inboard boat in some stage of construction jutting out of the garage; my father’s blueprints either tacked up to the wall or laid out on his draft board. On occasion my dad would let me sand on a section of fiberglassed hull or hold a board while he nailed or screwed it into place.

My dad’s boats are twined deeply into the good memories of my childhood. There’s a few bad memories too, like when my eldest brother, Butch wrapped me up in a sheet of fiberglass. Or the time I popped the clutch on my dad’s VW sending it into the garage, just left of the bow…umm, through the closed garage door.

And of course there was the time during the summer between sixth and seventh grade when we went Bonita fishing off Dana Point closer to Catalina. You know the heart of shark infest waters between mainland and the Channel Islands. My cousin Lenny (who from here on out will be called Snakeboy- for reasons not revealed in this adventure) lived with us, and he and Butch were the two who usually got to go fishing with my dad on the Sea Horse. But for some reason my dad allowed me to go along one Saturday morning.

Major, but applied digression. My baby brother had died the day after being born that June; suddenly family time was important. My mom has always said things happen for a reason, David’s arrival and departure from our lives was a family cementing for me. I distinctly remember weekends Pinecone and I spent with my dad camping, motorcycle riding, hiking, and fishing, while the boys spent the weekend with my mom learning the finer arts of cafeteria dining, miniature golf, or roller skating. The following weekend we’d swap parents. Those are cherished, focused times for me.

I distinctly remember leaving San Pedro that morning while it was still dark, the heavy tang of salt scenting the air, the harbor clock striking the quarter hour, motoring past the Queen Mary and feeling miniscule in comparison. We stopped to gassed up and buy bait at the breakwater before heading out to open water. The ocean was relatively calm and my father opened the hatch so we could stand up in the bunk and let the wind and spray hit us in the face as we made out way out to sea.

Dawn was breaking over the horizon when we first saw the flying fish off our bow, seemingly keeping up with the Sea Horse as we flew over the waves that morning. Flying fish made me search for dolphins in front of us, sadly I never saw one. Those first two hours were fantastic. Then we stopped so we could drop lines and begin fishing. I remember baiting up, letting my dad show me how to cast and being envious because Butch and Snakeboy could do this themselves. Then we sat, and the ocean rolled, and I heaved, and heaved, and heaved again. Someone, with a kindly heart gave me saltines to settle my stomach… I’d call my aunt Dot a bitch if I didn’t love her so much.

Note to the Unwared: Saltines and Seven Up do not settle your stomach on a rolling sea, it just gives you more to heave…

A lifetime later the sun shone, the fish were biting hot, and I finally quit puking. It actually was a great day, egg salad sandwiches rarely tasted better, and I caught a big ass Spanish Mackerel. A fish called such because when landed it slaps its body about with unequalled enthusiasm, sounding much like a pair of castanets, very entertaining and musical. My dad accidentally hooked a seagull and then let it shred him as he gently unhooked it amid claws and savage pecking. Snakeboy hooked the first shark of the day, a blue about 6 or 7 feet long, freaked out and dropped his rod and reel over board. Luckily, both rod and reel were retrieved and the shark allowed to escape.

Right before my dad discovered the strange noise coming from the bilge and the sump pump. Yep, the loud gurgle meant we were taking on water. The sump pump had burned out…about 15 miles out to see between Dana Point and Catalina. It’s a weird feeling to see land to the west and then to the east and know you can’t swim that far. Did I mention sharks? Because they live pretty vividly in my memory, so does the empty, three pound Folgers coffee can he thrust in to my hands with instructions to bail—fast. My dad used empty coffee cans for everything. Butch, Snakeboy, and I bailed as my dad and uncle stowed away the gear, lifted anchor, and headed for port and dry land.

Once we were moving we stopped bailing and enjoyed the ride. We had plenty of fish (my dad loved to fish, hated to eat fish) for my mom’s roses, a great memory, and I can honestly say I’ve had to bail out a boat or sink.

Snakeboy lived with us for a year (our seventh grade – we’re the same age) before he returned to his mom in Ohio. That trip was the last time I went out on the ocean in the Sea Horse. I later learned to water ski behind it on Shasta Lake. Butch now is land locked racing Sprints in Sioux Falls. My uncle died in the 1990’s from lung cancer and cirrhosis of the liver, I don’t think he and Snakeboy ever had the relationship they had that year. My dad quit building boats after we moved to Oregon, he started building Ultra-lights instead, and yes he did build an aquatic one…which he crashed into Siltcoos Lake on it’s maiden bail out was going to help it.

Boats, planes, and people pass, but memories remain, glorious and golden in my mind.



Anonymous said...

I love the way you tell stories. I can see it all.

Cele said...

I love to tell stories and I feel another coming on this week with the topic Lynn Blossum set for the week.