It takes a truck,
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.