“Like ‘boats’ or hearts, Oh when they start, They really fall apart”
Okay. I know it’s supposed to be “boots or hearts”, from The Tragically Hip’s old break-up song. But a heart can get hit hard over a boat break-up too.
Boats aren’t for everyone, I realize. My fiancé B didn’t grow up with boats, so it took a bit of observation to make him a willing participant in my family’s boat madness. When Lake Huron is calm, I can’t wait to insert myself behind the steering wheel of my boat, throw my ball cap backwards and slam the throttle down. My cheeks pull taut from g-forces, then my chest fills with carefree joy bubbles. I steer us out and away from shore, where we get all tangled up in blue water and sky.
That’s actually the name we recently came up with for our 2014 Yamaha 212X jet-boat. Tangled Up In Blue. “Simone and Naomi love Disney’s Tangled movie,” my daughter Jetanne said, snuggling her life-vested girls on board. “And we all love Bob Dylan. And what color do you picture when you think of boating? Blue.” AND the boat IS blue.
We think of Hugh too – my husband, father of my kids, gone almost 11 years now – when boating, because that’s where it all began for our family. “A boat is the most unselfish toy a person can have,” Hugh used to say. Hugh had a lot of toys, so it’s possible this was just an excuse for having another one. But power-boating is best when shared, especially when your family and friends love the exhilarating feeling of floating in, jumping from, and whizzing behind – on a tube, a ski, a board of some sort – a water-vehicle.
And, coincidentally, Hugh and blue go together too. Blue was our horseracing color. A fine, sharp, remarkable blue. “Reflex” blue, the marketers call it. The exact same fine, sharp blue of our Yamaha 212X.
Oh, and we’re blue that Hugh’s not still with us, boating, carving out ridiculous cuts on his O’Brien ski behind a boat like Tangled Up In Blue.
So that pretty much justifies the name.
My passion for boats goes back to childhood summers spent mostly on or near them. I grid-waded the muck of a river in Connecticut with my brother and a cousin, trying to find Dad’s propeller. I learned about skiing when I was seven and some (crazy or joking) adult suggested to hang on, no matter what, and several gallons of the Grand River filled my lungs before I let go of the rope. I guess, out of fright, I sat out my eighth summer, because I vividly recall the magic of walking on water at nine, boards clacking below me, arm and leg muscles happily responding to the boat’s call to action.
And I’ve been pretty lucky on water. There was a major nail-biter, when Jay was in my belly and the wind kicked up a huge fuss on Lake Huron as we traveled from Grand Bend back to Port Franks. Everyone on board donned life-vests. I stared at the shore knowing there was no way out. Waves were far too big to just simply boot it to the beach. The boat would capsize. That’s a sinking feeling, I’ve got to tell you. I relaxed briefly when we finally turned to cruise into the river at Port Franks, knowing it would be a muddy safe haven, then my heart leapt at the sight of the ten-foot swell greeting us at the mouth. But Hugh was at the throttle, confident and calm, and he deftly rode that great white, well brown, shark in.
But am I lucky with boats?
When Hugh died, our 1998 Falcon 23’ inboard-outboard was left in my (mostly) capable hands. It caught on fire one summer. It was an electrical thing, causing about $3000 in damage. I called my brother Ray. “Hey, bro,” I said. “Remember all the boats Dad had? And all of the crazy ways he’d fix (nowadays it’s called MacGyvering, my dad used to call it Kai Houkas-ing) the various motors? Did he ever have a boat fire?”
And now? Before the name is even etched on the Yamaha 212X?
Let’s just say that she got tangled up and I’m blue.
Technology is a great thing, isn’t it, for knowledge? I sat at a bar in Baltimore on Sunday night swiping through Facebook on my iPhone, watching a storm develop over Lake Huron, apocalyptic clouds poised to hammer Grand Bend. Tangled Up In Blue sat – nameless, blameless and helpless – on a lift in the river across from my cottage with no family member available to give Shelter From The Storm, to employ another Dylan song title.
Perhaps shelter wasn’t possible. Do you torment yourself, with shoulda-woulda-coulda, after you get bad news? Or is that just me?
It was the last day of my holidays the next day and I enjoyed an oblivious sleep in. Then this email slid into my inbox, from the owner of my friendly neighbourhood boat store. Subject line: “Storm damage to boat”. Second sentence: “It has come off the lift and has rested on top of one of the posts.”
Have you noticed that rubbernecking damage to someone else’s property is way more thrilling than simply viewing your own? When a tornado chewed through Grand Bend last summer I could not wait to snap pictures of that Mortgage Intelligence building, with the three giant trees imbedded in its roof. Yet when the boat store owner’s pictures of my “storm damage to boat” hit my inbox, I cringed. My iPhone, sensing my pain, decided these pictures were too much, a storage overload. The email app crashed. I ended up viewing them with my iPad, on which the damage appeared bigger, more horrifying.
But I’m a big girl. I’m dealing. I bravely notified insurance and I’m buoyed up by this fine tidbit: my coverage allows me to rent a boat, until mine is repaired. Time to stop feeling blue and continue enjoying the summer. Tangled up in blue sky, blue water.