On this New Year’s Eve, some rowing thoughts on looking back – which is what rowers do – with my wife in mind going forward.
December 4th of this year I sank my boat.
I admit to the notorious reputation of not looking where I’m going. I do in fact know where I want to go – generally - but only give a literal passing glance on how well I’m getting there.
There are consequences.
I hit a big metal buoy, maybe three feet in diameter, dead on. At high speed, or at least rowing hard. Alone. Temperature in the mid-twenties.
Looking over my shoulder I saw the bow was cracked but it didn’t look too bad.
What I didn’t see was below the surface.
I stayed the course and rowed further on another half-mile to where the water ends.
At first I thought it was my imagination that the shell seemed to be sitting lower and lower but as I began the turn to head back, I couldn’t as the fragile skin-thin craft underneath me was so sluggishly full of water it plowed straight ahead.
Thinking I’d beach it, drain it and row the couple-of-miles-or-so back home, I accomplished only two.
Standing in my wool-stockings on the pebbly shore, I lifted from the bow - or what mush remained of the underside - and three feet of the stern snapped off, or nearly so.
Twenty-four feet from where I stood a yard’s worth of fiberglass hung at a severe angle, the weight of water that that rushed down the interior of the hull snapping the spine and ending all options but that of walking home.
Or flagging down someone with a cell phone which is where my wife comes in.
Answering the call, my partner on this adventure called marriage we launched 41 years ago retrieved me from the side of the road and just a few days ago she helped me re-launch the totally restored 13-inch wide racing single – with all 27-feet intact.
All the sandpaper and dust is gone – or most of it – and the room normally used for catering birthday parties and the like has been returned to normal, although it’ll probably forever smell of resin and fiberglass. That done, I affixed the red-blinking lights to the bow and the night after Christmas I headed out into the fast-fading sunset knowing I’d soon be chasing the moon - me in my water-borne sleigh drawn by the irresistible tug of the absolute stillness of the water.
She was there when I left and she was there to watch for the tell-tale signs of the twinkling lights to return.
She’s always been there.
“I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again.”
Lucky in love, that’s me.