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Falling in Love With Boating


You will find lots of different types of boaters out on the water.  Some are in it just for the fun.  For others, it is a great way to spend time with their families on hot summer weekends.  There are even those who are in it for the social aspects or even to make business contacts.  Then you have the hard core boating community.  These are the boaters who would rather be on their boat before any other place.  It doesn’t matter if it’s hot, cold, raining or sunny.  Their boat is always the best place to be.  They use terms like “Land Sucks”, “Life’s Better on a Boat”, and “It’s Only Boat Dollars.”  This is the group that truly loves boating.  For these people, boating is firmly entrenched in their hearts and there is no way, you or anyone else is going to change that.  Boating was and still is their first love and they can all tell you how they fell in love with their favorite past time.

My love of boating started when I was a kid.  I guess you could say that I fell in love with boating and with the ocean at the same time because they went hand in hand.  The year was 1972.  I was 7 years old and we were living in Virginia.  My parents had decided to build a small vacation home about 2 hours away from where we lived in a remote area along the Rappahannock River.  The area was about as rural as you could get and I do remember wondering just how bored I was going to be whenever we visited.  After all, it was so remote that there was no television reception and only one or two radio stations.  There was a small group of homes that had been built on a hill overlooking the river.  I’m not sure I would have called it a subdivision but it did have a name.  That name was Beverly Beach.  Little did I know that this place, which we would affectionately call “the cabin”, would have an everlasting effect on me.
Satellite view of the mouth of the Rappahannock River.  The star indicates the location of Beverly Beach.


It was a Saturday, shortly after construction had started on the cabin.   We were at home.  My sister and I were watching TV and mom was in the kitchen.  I did not know where my father was because he had gotten up early that morning and left to go somewhere.  I figured he had gone to check on the construction of our soon to be new vacation getaway. Later that afternoon, he came rushing into the house with a big grin on his face.  I remember that he looked like the cat that swallowed the mouse. 

“Come outside,” he said.

My sister and I got up and walked out the back door into the carport and there it was; a brand new boat.  We were surprised indeed.  Shortly after, mom came to the door and, from the look on her face, I surmised that this was also a surprise to her.  I ran around the boat in excitement ogling every inch of it.  It was an 18 foot tri hull Glassmaster with an 85 horsepower Evinrude outboard engine.  It was definitely not a large boat but it was big enough for the four of us.  To me, it was the biggest, most beautiful thing I had ever seen?
My dad, my grandfather and the boat.


Soon after, the cabin was completed and our new family adventures on the water began.  We would spend almost every weekend at the cabin and during the summer, we would sometimes stay there for two or three weeks at a time.  Beverly Beach had two fishing piers and a small boat ramp.  We would use the ramp to launch the boat and spend all day fishing out on the Rappahannock River.  If the tide was too low for our local ramp, we would take the boat over to Locklies Marina just a few miles away and launch there.  Some days when the weather was exceptional and we were feeling adventurous, we would go out into the Chesapeake Bay a bit where the bigger fish were.  When we were not out in the boat, my sister and I would go out on one of the fishing piers and catch crabs the old fashioned way, with a chicken neck bone and a weight tied to a string.  In the evenings, mom would cook the best meals you could imagine, most of them comprised of fish caught earlier that day; grouper, perch, spot and flounder.   We would fall asleep easily, our bodies tired from a full day’s fun on the water only to rise the next morning to do it all again.  For the next several years, this was our family getaway.  It was our special place.  It was our thing.   I did not realize it then but now when I look back, I realized that I was never bored.  I was having too much fun to notice. 
Above:  My sister and I catching crab on the pier at Beverly Beach.
Below: What the pier looks like today.



Here are some of my best memories from our time spent at the cabin:


You Have to Hold Your Mouth Right


We were out on the boat fishing one day and my dad was catching all of the fish.  When my sister and I asked him why he was catching all of the fish, he replied, “You have to hold your mouth right.”  We spent the next hour trying to copy how dad was holding his mouth as he continued to reel in fish.  Now I realize the strange contortions of his face were his efforts to keep from laughing.

Fresh Crab

When we were in the mood for fresh blue crab, we would head out in the boat looking for a crab boat.  Once we found one, we would buy a bushel of live blue crab, take them back to the cabin and invite the neighbors over for a big crab boil.
Out looking for a crab boat to buy some fresh crab.

Can I Drive Dad

There was nothing I liked more than to drive the boat.  Dad loved it too.  Every now and then, I would look at him and say, “Can I drive Dad?” I could see that it was hard for him to step away from the helm but he would do it.  Later on in life, I really began to understand the internal struggle that my dad went through.  I was out on my boat with the kids and my son looked at me and said “can I drive?”

Oysters

The area around the mouth of the Rappahannock River is known for oysters.  There are oyster beds all around and they produce some of the best oysters you will find anywhere.  Sometimes at low tide, some of these oyster beds would be relatively close to the water’s surface.  Once day, we learned this the hard way.  We were running down the middle of the river in what one would presume to be deep water when all of a sudden, there was a big bump and the boat came sliding to a stop.  I did not know what was going on.  From my standpoint, all I could see was water all around us.  I watched as my dad put both feet over the side of the boat and stood up!!  I knew my dad was a great man but I did not know he could walk on water!  He walked around a bit, came back to the boat and proceeded to push it (and us) back into deeper water. 

The Perfect Storm

One day, my dad and I went out on the water.  I remember my mom and my sister did not want to go because the weather was not great.  We ran down the river a bit towards the bay and did some fishing until a bad storm blew in.  We started the boat and headed back to shore as the wind and the waves grew.   Dad was at the helm and I was sitting in the seat behind him facing aft.  Apparently, we hit a monster wave.   The bow of the boat rose so high that for a moment, I remember looking straight down at the water.  Fortunately, we made it back safely and we never told mom.
Me sitting in the bow of the boat with my grandmother standing below.

Family Fishing

We spent many days out on the water together as a family, dog included.  Most of those days were spent fishing.  I cannot remember a day when we did not catch fish.  I do not remember a meal at the cabin that did not include seafood of some type.  We always had some contest going between us; who could catch the most fish or who could catch the biggest fish.  When one of us caught a huge fish, we would all cheer and celebrate.  There could not have been a better way to pass the time together.

Years passed and by the early 80’s we had sold the cabin and the boat and we had moved to Georgia.  I remember being sad to see our time on the Rappahannock River and the Chesapeake Bay come to an end but even though things had changed, I knew that I was not done with boating.  The time that we spent there started a fire in me that would not be extinguished.  Around age 14 or 15, I made a vow to myself that one day, I would buy my own boat. 

When I think back on those days, I realize how good life was.  It was simple, but it was good.  For many of us, that is what boating and being on the water is really about.  It doesn’t matter what kind of boat you have, how much it cost or whether it is old or new.  If it allows you to enjoy being on the water, it makes your life that much better.  Maybe, that’s why boating is considered to be the number one family activity in the US. 

If you have an interesting story about how you fell in love with boating, please share it in the comments below.

Happy Boating,

Captain Frank

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Comments

  1. I used to date a girl that had a boat. We spent a lot of our weekends during the summer on Lake Norman. She and I broke up and I realized that I missed the boat more than I missed her. I now have my own boat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, at least she left you with something that you can enjoy for the rest of your life!

      Delete
  2. I fell in love as a child. Even though my father was in the Army, we spent a year at the Naval War College in Fort Adams, Rhode Island. LOVED the water ever since!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was in Rhode Island recently. Great place to have a boat. . . in the summertime. LOL

      Delete
  3. Great story, and a common thread among boaters and professionals in the boat business: early exposure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I agree. So many of us boaters seems to get their exposure at a young age.

      Delete
  4. Very nice blog Cap n' Frank!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Trying to find the perfect way to bring our broken family of divorce together in a way that will build lasting memories in the short time we all have with our kids. It's ended up our new way of life during summer. We spend 80+ days a year on board, enjoying Georgian Bay Islands. It is the single greatest investment in my kids future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is awesome! Thanks for sharing that story!

      Delete

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