My Fathers Living Legacy
by Susan Goldberg
Powerboating, cruising, gunk-holing: These are my fathers words to describe the one thing on earth that seems to bring him happiness, relaxation, a sense of not wanting to waste a single minute of his life doing anything else.
Having grown up in Washington, D.C., he found a whole new world in Chesapeake Bay. My parents built their dream home on two acres in Annapolis Roads, on Lake Ogleton. They enjoy not only sweeping views of both downtown Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge but also visits from deer, fox, opossums and raccoons.
Since my parents were the primary source of our attention during the summer and our almost solitary form of entertainment, boating became very important to my sister and me. Our father was the leader, to the point of fanaticism.
Clear from the very beginning were the rules. We all had to do our part when boating. I grew up observing my fathers every gesture, every knot he tied and every crab-trap he baited and threw into the water. We explored almost every nautical mile of the Chesapeake Bay, from the Intercoastal Waterway to the north down to the mouth of the Bay at the southern end.
Both my sister and I got our sea legs before we could walk. Our first boat, purchased not long after our parents moved onto their waterfront property, was so small that my father opened up a full-size playpen at the stern.
I was six months old.
Every summer, my sister and I spent almost every free moment out on the Bay. During those summers, walking on dry land might as well have been a walk on the red planet, so accustomed were we to the rocking of the waves some so large that when the boat crested them, it landed in the trough with such a slam it seemed the whole boat would shatter. Whenever we overnighted at marinas and walked through the towns, our sea legs sent us stumbling like drunken sailors on shore leave.
Quite a few details were overlooked in preparing to stay on the Bay for a week or two. Never mind the house, the mail, missed phone calls or the cats that might go unfed unless a neighbor had been assigned to them. The Chesapeake Bay was out there waiting; everything else was an afterthought.
Come on Carolynn! Lets go! Its already 7:30! Our fathers voice echoed through the house like an excited childs on Christmas morning. As the three of us scrambled to get our things, he stared out the living room windows, watching the other boats get under way, growing ever more restless.
Everyone is already out there!
Oftentimes as he waited impatiently for the three of us to get down to the boat, he honked the horn and revved the engine.
Growing up the daughter of a Chesapeake Bay boating fanatic has had its advantages. From an early age, my sister and I have seen the world from an entirely different point of view. On a boat, on the Bay, youre at the mercy of the water, the weather, fellow boaters and how carefully you planned for the trip.
Being out on the Bay so often has taught me to respect other people, as well as the Bays delicate ecosystem. Boaters learn to depend on one another. Someday I might be the person caught out on the Bay in rough weather, my boat sinking beneath me. Someday another boater might be able to reach me before the Coast Guard can. We also learned very early that we must respect the Bay or it wont be around for future generations. When I see someone dumping garbage into the Bay, I report it. If we find someone crabbing in a restricted area, we report it.
From these childhood boating experiences, I learned that there is more to life than alarm clocks and Beltway commutes. I learned that an early-riser could relax and take advantage of the calm morning mist blanketing a lake, instead of just getting to work earlier.
I also learned to cherish special moments while they are happening.
Writer Susan Goldberg reflects from Severna Park.