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Dad at His Best

Today is my Dad’s 76th birthday. This picture was taken this past summer on Big Birch Lake.  For as long as I can remember sailboats have been a part of my life. The first sailboat I remember was one that Mom gave Dad for a Christmas present and he built-in the dining room during the winter months after Christmas. They had to do some remodeling in the kitchen to get the boat out in the spring.

Next it was a bit larger version that he rebuilt in the backyard. It was an old wooden boat that needed much TLC. There were many trips to Johnson Boat Works that summer.  Dad had this boat when I was learning how to drive so I learned how to back the boat behind a large van down the boat ramp and into the water.  It’s a skill that my husband has come to appreciate over the years as we’ve launched our speedboat at the public access on our lake.

This sailboat we pulled on a trailer from Minnesota all the way to the South Padre Islands in Texas in the middle of winter so Dad could try sailing in the Gulf of Mexico.

After that it was the more adventurous stage in sailing when he bought a catamaran sailboat,  There were many wild rides on that boat. One ride in particular I remember well because it was the Fourth of July and we tipped the boat over and were bobbing in the lake for a while as boats passed us on all sides including the sheriff.

His current boat is the one in the picture. The past few years I haven’t gone sailing much but made a point to go one afternoon with Mom and Dad. Mom packed wine and cheese and crackers for our afternoon. A pleasant afternoon with many pleasant memories of past sailing adventures.

Happy Birthday Dad!

 

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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in Family, Reflections, Sailing

 

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Afternoon Delight

Each spring we help my Mom and Dad put in their Catalina sailboat in the lake for the season and then in the fall we reverse the process.

Life has been full the past few years so we haven’t had time to actually go for a sailboat ride during the summer, just partake in the launching process.

This spring we vowed that this summer would be different we would actually go for a ride on the boat. Several years ago we went for a ride on Dad’s last sailboat, a catamaran. It was a beautiful Fourth of July weekend. We turtled the boat and ended up spending a bit of time floating in the lake with lots of boats zipping around us until another boat stopped to help us. We formulated a plan to upright the boat and were on our way again. I was hoping we wouldn’t have a repeat of the previous experience.

Summer has come and gone here in Minnesota and no sailboat ride until yesterday. While at a birthday party for my sister on Saturday evening my husband made plans with my Dad for our sailboat ride. Yesterday afternoon after church we headed over to Mom and Dad’s for our ride. It was just a quick ten minute ride to their home.

When we arrived Mom was already had treats ready for our ride, a bottle of wine, cheese and crackers. We walked down to the dock and started getting ready for the ride. we motored away from the dock and about a hundred feet from shore and Dad started putting up the sails. First the main sail then the jib and we were off.

We tacked back and forth across the lake with the sails full under clear blue skies. It was a perfect not too windy day. We could see seagulls gathered on the lake as well as the loons as we sailed with fishing boats here and there.

The afternoon brought back many wonderful memories of Dad at the helm and family times spent together on the boat.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in Fall, Family, Photography, Sailing

 

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Dad’s Sailboat

It takes a truck,

A Trailer

A Sailboat and 4 Willing Participants.

Each fall we help my Dad take his sailboat out of the lake.  Yesterday was the day.  My husband and I  got the truck and headed over to Mom and Dad’s home on Big Birch Lake just 8 miles from our home on Pine Lake.

 

When we arrived, Dad had his trailer ready to go in the driveway and all the tools he knew we would need gathered.  He commented “I think this is the first year I actually have all my stuff together early.”  We walked down to the dock to make sure everything was in order there and that the outboard motor would start since we wouldn’t be putting up the sails to go to the boat landing.

I told Dad that I’ve helped take the boat in and out the past few years but I can’t remember the last time I’ve actually been on the boat in the water other than at the boat ramp.  When did that happen?  Too busy to sail?  He said “You want to ride with over to the landing?”  I said “Sure.” 

We sent Mom off with their van and Dean off with the truck over to the boat landing and I let Dad and I free of the dock and moved the front end of the boat around the dock.  He said “Don’t forget to jump on.”  I replied “I won’t you’ve got my coffee on board.”  Then I climbed on board as the boat was making its way past the end of the dock.

It’s a short trip over to the landing but the amount of talking we got in seemed like it went on forever.  I kept glancing at Dad and thinking I should take a picture of him, captain of his boat, but I couldn’t do it.  Somehow, I felt if I took the picture, it would be the last one I would have of him on his boat and it shouldn’t be of him motoring across the lake but with the sails up and the winds blowing in his face.  No need to worry, but I don’t ever remember thinking how quickly yet slowly time has gone with Dad.

Dad’s in great shape.  He turned 74 this past February.  He and my Mom have spent the entire summer campaigning because Dad decided to run for Congress as an Independent in Minnesota.  I told them they should have both been wearing pedometers this summer to record the many miles they have walked delivering literature in the district which covers about one-third of the western part of Minnesota from Canada to Iowa.  It’s not his first venture into politics.  He was in the Minnesota House of Representatives for 4 years and the Minnesota Senate for 14 years.

I remember Dad’s first sailboat.  Mom gave him a kit for Christmas one year in either 1964 or 65.  I remember that he built it in the dining room all winter because he couldn’t wait until spring to start it.  That way he’d get in more sailing in the summer.  I was only 4 or almost 5 at the time.  Playing under the upside down boat in the diningroom was my personal fort all winter long.  I hated when he had to turn it over and eventually take it outside in the spring.

Next came the bigger wooden boat that he bought and rebuilt in the backyard of our next home, sometime in the mid 70’s.  When he brought it home from the guy he bought it from he actually put his hand through the front of the boat because portions of the wood were rotten.  We made many trips over to Johnson Marina on White Bear Lake for parts to repair the boat before it was ready to sail. 

I still remember the Memorial Day when my two sisters and I were sitting on the edge of the boat ready to set sail.  Dad handed my brother the main sail rope and the rudder and told him to hold it steady while he adjusted the jib.  He did just as Dad said only a strong gust came up and pulled the rope from his hand and the boom knocked the three of us backwards into the cold waters of White Bear Lake.  I don’t remember ever being so cold and taking so long to warm up.

The adventurous nature of my Dad took us to many places.  One winter we pulled the sailboat behind our van all the way to the South Padre Islands or was it Corpus Christi, Texas so he could try sailing it there.  He put it in and sailed in the waters off the  Texas coast.  He is always happiest when he’s on his boat.  He was in the Army before he went to college but I think he should have joined the Navy instead because of his love of the water. 

After the larger wooden boat came the catamaran sailboat.  That was definitely a wilder ride that any other sailboat to that point.  I even went out in the sling out over the water on the catamaran and had quite the ride when we turtled it on the Fourth of July.  Mom was not a fan of that boat.  No way to stay dry and drink wine when Dad was sailing that boat.

Dad eventually sold the catamaran and purchased the boat he has now the Therapy II.  It’s a fun boat to take out.  Dad loved to take his mom out for rides on it when she would come for a visit.  She was in her nineties when had her last ride in it.  Like my Dad, she was always up for an adventure.

Taking the boat out this year seemed pretty uneventful.  We loaded the boat onto the trailer on the first attempt.  We remembered the order of things and everything went smoothly.  If we had been keeping track of our official times to complete the task, I’m sure this year’s time would have been our best. 

I wish that Dad would have had time to take it for a sail before we put it away.  He said that he only sailed it twice all summer and one of those times was alone Mom was out of town.  I wish that he would have called to see if I wanted to go out.  I’m sure I would have made time to sail or would I have let my busy world take such a pleasure from me?   I’ll never know about this year, but there is always next summer.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2010 in Life Happens, Reflections, Sailing

 

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Seasonal Rituals… Is it time to give it up?

Each season in Minnesota brings new routines and rituals.  Summertime at our home has its unique set of rituals because it involves putting away all the stuff from the last season and taking out all the stuff for the new season.  Then the reverse at the end of each season. 

In the beginning of summer we need to empty our garage to put the snowmobiles away from the winter.  We created a crate system for our garage to stack two of our snowmobiles and put the third one in a crate so we can stack things on top of it.  It requires some maneuvering on our part but we decided that we are going to use the space we already have and not construct a storage shed.  We don’t like the idea of more property taxes if we were to build a storage shed.

Another part of getting ready for summer is getting the boat ready to go in the lake.  Each fall we pile all of our outdoor furniture in our boat on the trailer and then put the boat cover over the boat.   When our kids were younger their bikes also went in the boat for the winter.  It looks a little like the Beverly Hillbillies when it is all loaded.  In the spring we need to reverse the process, taking out all of the stuff in the boat and placing it in the yard or on the porch so we can use the boat.  The boat gets cleaned and serviced and then put in the lake for the summer. 

Before we can put the boat in the lake we need to put the boat lift in the lake.  Each year we’ve learned to be more creative in doing this because depending on our timing, we will have one to four of our children around to help.  The past couple of years my husband and I have managed to do the job ourselves because we just couldn’t get the schedules coordinated with the kids.

It’s not enough for us to have one boat to take care but we also help my Dad get his 20+ foot sailboat in his lake and out each year.  It’s a comedy routine because nobody seems to remember just how we did it the last time.  Did we have the boat and trailer parked uphill or downhill to make it easier to put up or take down the 25′ mast?  Mom and Dad are in their early 70’s and my Dad still thinks that he and my Mom can do it themselves. 

Fortunately for Mom they don’t own a truck large enough to do it without our truck.  Last fall the day we took the sailboat out there were actually snowflakes falling.  Dad doesn’t want to miss one day of sailing.  The same is true for the fishing boat.  Everyone knows the fish always bite best in the fall.  So we are usually taking the dock and their boat lift out in very cold water.

One summer ritual I partake in each year is water skiing.  I have water skied every summer since I learned how at age 12 except for the summers I was pregnant with our children.  It’s not that I love water skiing but the thought that at some point in time I will no longer be able to water ski is not something I want to admit.  So every summer I put on my suit, pull out the waterskis, rope, and have my husband drag me around the lake just one time just to say that I can still do it.  Did I mention that I really hate being wet? 

Last year my muscles ached in my arms and legs for three days after skiing.  Maybe I’m in better shape this year.  Not likely.  We will see.

Grandson Jack's Look of Concern as He watched Grandma Ski

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2010 in Reflections

 

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