I have considered a nautical blog for some time, and with the start of the 2011 Tres Joli sailing season, I imagine there is no better time than the present. Plus it gives me a chance to brag on my son Will. My stepmother Susan recently said it best when she claimed, "your dad was cheated out of knowing Will as an adult. It happened so fast, and before our very eyes..." Indeed.
A visible sign of this came upon his return from college, his sophomore year at Grand Valley. Accompanied by a letter a few days later announcing his inclusion on the Dean's List, he blew me away with still another declaration.
"Dad, I want to help you wax Tres Joli." He was actually volunteering for boat cleaning duty?
So we got to it, and in Karate-kid like fashion, we approached that most ancient of wax-on-wax-off rituals. A mere three days later, we have the hull sides of Tres Joli looking bristol. No small feat with 38 feet of waterline. Tonight Will was telling me that his friend Max wanted to join us. This made me suspicious. Then Will fessed up and came clean.
"I think what Max and I both realized is that waxing a boat might be the closest thing to doing something manly we can hope to do with our dads. We're both nerds, and both our dads are non-athletic nerds. Waxing a boat gives a chance to hang out in the man-ring."
There you have it, the most basic of motivations. To be a man, alongside our dads. The original Polish Mariner would be proud. He might recall for Will's benefit that first summer when he launched Phase One on the Clinton River in 1966 after three years of painstaking restoration work. He might share a few stories about my role handing him tools as he wired the trim tabs, built a depth sounder from a Heathkit in our garage, and refinished a mahogany Chris Craft until it was picture perfect.
Father and son. Basic boat building, cleaning, restoration. The work of father and son just doesn't get much better. Seriously.