The Harbor Report: The importance of sailing stories

This week's column is more for me than for all of you.

I am sure you have heard and lived it yourself: Life is too short to go boating without your family and friends.

Tuesday I stared at my blank computer monitor for about 20 minutes, thinking of something to write for this column. Then, while looking out of my office window, I noticed the large, dark clouds of a winter storm approaching.

My phone rang. It was my mother, looking for assistance to take my father to the hospital. As we traveled south on Coast Highway, I glanced out to sea. The look of the approaching storm shook me from the inside out this time. I took a deep breath as my emotion started to rise in me like the ocean's tide.

Over the last 15 years my mother and I have made this trip many times, but this time felt different. The parking lot was full, and we ended up on the top level, where you can see out over the harbor. The dark clouds were coming in from Catalina, and it was only a matter of time before the forecasted downpour would be upon us.

While in the hospital's emergency room, we always seem to talk about the same topic: sailing.

This time, my father thanked me for sending him photos of my son Andrew and I sailing our Harbor 20 in last weekend's Midwinters. He always talks about when he and I learned how to sail a Hobie 16 off the 18th Street beach and reminds me of all the moored boats I ran into.

Quite often, the story comes up of when we beat one of our best friends in the Ancient Mariner regatta back in the 1970s. It always feels good to laugh together at these familiar stories in these situations.

As doctors and nurses came in and out of his room, we talked about his grandson's junior sailing classes and the expression on the boy's face when he returned from one of his lessons after he flipped his Sabot for the first time. This was followed by concerned laughter.

We also like to bring up one or two stories from our many Catalina trips. The story that seems to get the biggest laugh is about one of our failed attempts to make it through the surf in a dinghy while heading back to the boat.

This story always gets my mother into the conversation, with her saying something about me being a genius, and how I almost took out our whole family. The laughter will grow louder as we all recall wading back to the beach to retrieve the turtled dinghy, with its outboard sounding and looking more like a blender.

Of course, we also have our Duffy electric boat stories from when one, or all, of us had a little too much fun at dinner.

I've asked on more than one occasion, "Hey Dad, do you remember which dock we tied the boat to?" When she hears that story, my mother normally just puts her head down and shakes her head from side to side, and I see a half smile appear on her face as she pretends to hide it.

The harbor and boating has become a big part of our lives. We continue to observe the tide come in and out, and the dark winter storms do the same. What I had not realized is how often I watch them alone.

This last weekend I sailed the first day of the Midwinters by myself because I thought I would be faster in the lighter winds. It turned out that I was wrong, in more ways than one.

I am hoping that this winter storm will pass with little incident and my father will return home and regain his strength. I still want to tell a few more stories about the next Harbor 20 race with him and his grandson.

Sea ya.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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