From Rowboats to Cruise Ships
#100 A Trip Down Memory Lane
Boats played a significant role in our family - from rowboats to cruise ships. Each one has a memory to share.
Dan’s parents owned a cottage on Lake Erie, about 30 miles from Toledo, Ohio where we lived. One of my first dates with him - we were 12 at the time - was a boat ride in a small aluminum boat - we wandered up and down the waterways near the cottage. Oh, was I sunburnt at the end of the day, and boy, was his sister mad at me because I was her guest. It was also one of the happiest days of my life at the time.
As a teenager, Dan had a 14-ft Nipper. I remember sailing in the Maumee River near Toledo one summer evening and dumping the boat. It’s safe to say that sailboats were not my favorite.
Dan’s father was a boater as well. He and a friend were fishing on the lake when the boat developed engine trouble. In 1965, there were no cell phones or tracker apps. So, when they didn’t get back on time, and it was getting dark, everyone was worried.
Dan knew where his Dad’s fishing spots were. So, we went to the marina and asked other boaters to check on them. That’s where they were - safe and sound. They got towed back to the marina, and we went home.
When our children were young, I saved green stamps - enough to buy a small aluminum motorboat. That was the only way we could afford one. We had a tent camper on a small lot in a wooded campground and tooled around a local lake in the boat. The most significant memory is of the storm that swept through the area and toppled a large tree, which fell on the camper and smashed it.
One warm summer day, we rented canoes when the kids were young. They were in one canoe, and we were in another behind them. The river was shallow, but they lost control, and we had to rescue them. That was our first and last canoe trip.
When the kids were older, we had a 16 ft. Rebel sailboat. My 16-year-old son and his friend took the boat out with permission and upended it.
I was furious and on my way to imposing restrictions and curfews. What I almost missed was how well they managed the situation. They righted the boat, returned it to the dock, and cleaned it. They were proud of themselves and how they handled their adventure. We had family discussions, and all of us learned from that situation.
The next boat was “Afternoon Delight” after the John Denver song. We had a summer of fun - day trips, sunset cruises, and waterskiing. Our most significant memory happened on the 4th of July, 1976. Five of us took the boat down the Maumee River in tandem with a friend and his boat to watch the fireworks.
A major storm came up quickly - boats tipped over - it was chaos. The friend’s boat had an engine problem. So, Dan and our daughter stayed there to help. Another boater took my son, his girlfriend, and me to the marina, where we got our car and took her home. In the morning, the weather was calm, our friend’s engine started, and everyone got home safe and sound.
When we moved to California, we bought another sailboat and took it in the local reservoirs. The kids were older and had their plans. We found that hauling a boat from place to place was a lot of work for the two of us, and I still was not fond of sailboats - so that didn’t work so well.
There were cruises - to Europe, the Caribbean, and Alaska. Dan and I had great times and saw unique parts of the world. So many beautiful experiences - and memories.
When we moved to Washington, we bought our last boat - The Cat’s Meow. The plan was to toddle around Puget Sound with my brother and his wife, who also had a boat. My fondest memory was our 50th wedding anniversary dinner, just the two of us.
My brother died. We sold the boat and returned to California. There were no more boats, but the special memories will remain forever - at least for me. For Dan, as dementia increased, he remembered none of it.
Those memories keep me going and help me age well, even though he is no longer here to share them.
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