The First Will be the Last


We had planned a night on the ocean.  Yes!  Believe it.  Us!  A night lulled to sleep by the calming lackadaisical slap of waves hitting the hull of our new sailboat--the music of a distant buoy ringing antiphonally; a fog horn in rhythm with our dreams, and waking to the gentle alarm of seagulls calling for breakfast. 

This was to be a night to remember.  Our children would have wonderful memories of the family sleepovers on our sailboat.  We had just bought a 22 ft. O’Day sailboat and were anxious to start building those fantastic memories.

The family gear was packed, and after work we headed down the Cape.  The night was perfect—warm, full moon, the water looked iridescent.  We moor our boat, so the family waited ashore as Dad rowed out to the mooring.  Soon the boat was near enough for us to load our gear.

What now?  We decided to go out to eat supper and then go to the town’s band concert.  Isn't that a good family thing to do?  Well, supper would have to be “take out”, since we brought the family dog with us.  And “take out” was fine. We picked our spot on the lawn in front of the band stand.  We ate, played cards, and took a walk, until the concert started.  Everything was working out perfectly.

But back to the boat, was a different story.  The tide had gone out.  The sailboat was tilted over in the muck.  Such a sad sight!

So what?  We didn’t plan on doing any night time sailing.  We planned on sleeping.  But how to approach the boat?  Should we all stay on the side sticking up? 

We walked to the boat, as the smelly muck sucked our feed down.  The dog went and rolled in some dead fish heads, or something, and came back barking gloriously happy.  We threw a ball way out in the water so in the act of retrieving it, he was washing the stench off.  We hoped. 

It was terrible.  In order to stay on the high side of the boat we had to continuously hold on.  The darn dog still smelled.  Since he was now wet, salty, sandy, and still smelly, he constantly was scratching.  How do you stop a dog from scratching?  He also kept shaking himself to dry off.  We were hit with his flecked off water.
The temperature didn’t drop in the night. It was muggy.  And buggy!  The tiniest gnats came through the screens.  Our fingers ached from holding on.  We were hot, irritable, full of bug bites, sweaty, and tired.  No one got any sleep.

Suddenly, the boat moved. 

Ah.  The tide was coming in.  Soon all would be well. 

Think again.  The tide came in excruciatingly slow.  Shore walkers were gawking at us.  Some asked if they could help.  But what could they do?  We just had to sit and wait.

Once afloat, we motored out to Vineyard Sound.  We didn’t sail out because there wasn't much wind.  The sea was pretty calm, too—dead calm.

We thought it would be good to have breakfast.  I had brought everything--everything except eating utensils.  So there we were, taking a handful of Cheerios, a gulp of milk, and a bite of banana.  That was breakfast.

…a handful of Cheerios, a gulp of milk, and a bite of banana.
...a handful of Cheerios, a gulp of milk, and a bite of banana.
…a handful of Cheerios, a gulp of milk, and a bite of banana…

Lack of sleep did us in.  We felt  dirty, sweaty, salty, damp, and full of bug bites.  It was only seven in the morning and  we were sitting in the middle of the Sound dead still.  There was absolutely no wind.  The sun was blazing down on us.  We were sun burnt already, and the day hadn’t begun, yet.  We weren't moving at all—not even drifting.

We took a vote.  Everyone wanted to go home, except the dog.  And that’s the sad (yet memorable), tale of our wonderful, terrible, first, and last night, on the family boat.


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