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Messing About in Boats
A lifetime chronicle of boats, including our newest one.
There's a certain happiness attached to floating. The knowledge that one is simply sitting and bobbing along on top of the water, not dog paddling or kicking, but being carried above it both relaxes me and fills me with wonder at the same time. I have lived nearly all my life on or near the coast, and going out in the boat has always been part of my story. My father, an avid offshore fisherman in his spare time, had four boats at one time when I was in high school. They were different sizes and had different purposes. We also had a vacation house (a double wide trailer, actually) on a brackish river with an impressive dock and a screened porch that rivaled the size of the trailer. What more does one need, tucked so deep into the country that a road sign stating "End State Maintenance" appeared a few miles before we hit the long dirt road to The Point? Nothing more, I can tell you. It was a place to lay our heads, to shower and eat. The rest of the time was spent "messing about in boats."
For nearly twenty years, my family was without a boat that we could all enjoy. My dad recently bought a new twenty foot Sea Hunt boat for us to enjoy, inspired by the fact that there is now another generation to be taught appreciation for the ocean. The new boat is perfect for us, and happens to be a lovely medium shade of blue.
(All photos are mine)
The title of this article . . . - was borrowed from a famous work of literature!
You may know that I borrowed my title from Author Kenneth Grahame in his book, The Wind in the Willows. The phrase is part of a beautiful ode to boats spoken by the Water Rat to the Mole, who had never been in a boat before.
You may follow the link to read the quote for yourself, if you are not already familiar with it.
- Quote by Water Rat about messing about in boats
The Wind in the Willows
Fishing. Crabbing, shrimping, and more fishing. This was the theme of summertime when I was growing up. Even when we went on family vacations, they were similarly focused. In British Columbia, we were after salmon. In the Bahamas, it was Bonefish. So it makes sense that we had so many boats.
There was a little johnboat. Dad used it for duck hunting, and it stayed on its trailer in our back yard most of the time.
A larger green vessel, a bit more substantial than the first, was mine. Instead of steering with a wand on the motor, it had an actual console with steering wheel. I don't remember taking it out much.
The twenty foot Aquasport enjoyed the most use. It stayed tied up at the dock when we were at our second home. It was perfect for offshore fishing, but it was fast and made a great leisure boat, too. It was still possible to drop the anchor just off the beach of Otter Island, wade ashore and have a picnic. We just had to keep a lookout for gators and wild boar and what-not. Another thing we used to do was take an evening run over to Edisto Beach, tie up at the dock, and eat dinner at Salty Mike's. That was a great boat. Our new twenty foot Sea Hunt most closely resembles that Aquasport. Our new blue boat was built less than two hours away from here here in Columbia, South Carolina.
The 31 foot Bertram that my dad used to have was called The Zephyr. He owned it with a lifelong friend who shared his enthusiasm for the water. With two inboard engines and a tuna tower, The Zephyr was the perfect offshore fishing vessel. It was a fast boat, but nice in the cabin, too. It had a small toilet built into the bunk area in the cabin. This was a luxury, as none of our other boats had cabins or toilets. It had a table with benches across from the captain's chair on the first level. You could go out on this one and stay for days.
"Cool Change" by Little River Band
I can relate to so much of this song. There's nothing like being out on the ocean.
Get away on eBay
Can't afford your own vessel, but need to find your "Cool Change?" Try a short cruise! I used to be a travel agent, and I was a CLIA Accredited Cruise Counselor. In my opinion, there is nothing as relaxing and fun as a cruise!
The wind in my hair
There have been many days in the boat with my parents when we didn't fish at all. We just did "the fool-around," as we like to say. We meandered in and out of creeks, set out a few crab pots here and there, then returned a day or two later to collect the snapping bounty of the sea. We cruised up rivers and watched the gators lined up like cars on the banks at low tide. We ran aground once and had to wait a couple of hours for the rising tide to float us off again. When I was small, my dad once took me into Charleston Harbor on a Boston Whaler we had. He floated me right up beside a huge freighter ship so I could touch the side and look up at it. Talk about feeling tiny! It was intimidating and cool at the same time. I've never forgotten it. I daresay, with the way the world has gotten, that if you tried that nowadays, the Coast Guard might come arrest you. Funny memories, good times, and a young life changed forever to love and respect the ocean. That young life was me, of course. I hope we can now pass that same heritage on to my child.
Word of caution - Before you get a romantic notion of wind in your hair on the salt water, there's something you should know. If you go out in the whipping wind with the salt water spraying and misting you periodically, your hair is going to end up completely knotted with the toughest tangles you have ever seen in your life. It can be very painful and difficult to wash out, even with good conditioner. Wear a ponytail holder and a hat that won't blow off.
Cool, fun things to see on the water. This bridge opened for a sailboat to get through.
Hats that won't blow off as easily
We have circled around and gone back SO many times for someone’s visor or cap that flew off and bobbed gently on top of the water, waiting for our return. The occasional hat has sunk from sight and gone to sleep with the fishes.
This is a great one, because it covers the back of your neck, protecting it from the sun.
A visor is more difficult to lose, but you still have to be mindful of it blowing right off the back of your head in high wind. The white color is best, because it will reflect sunlight instead of absorbing it, making it cooler.
Don't forget the little people! This kids' sun hat will help keep them safe from sunburn, and the drawstring will keep it on their precious heads.
Don't forget a leash for your sunglasses!
I watched several pair of sunglasses go “plunk” and sink from sight to the bottom of the sea. Wear a leash!
These adjustable ones are wonderful, because you can actually tighten it to fit your head. This makes it even less likely that they will blow off!
The leading eyewear retainer . . . Croakies.
The older style of leather cord is good, too, and can be easier to put on or take off than the stretchy, smaller Croakies.
Once again, don't forget the kiddos!
I'm a South Carolina author.
Please try my collection of short stories, which is available on Kindle, Nook, or in paperback. Some of the stories have local flavor, including one about a shrimper who faces losing his shrimp boat to a lien.