Last week my friend Dave took me and a couple of other friends out for a very pleasant tour of the Long Island Sound on his boat. He has a peppy little bowrider that he tows over to the Norwalk boat launch at Veteran’s Park. The term “boat launch” brought back some vivid memories of when Dave and I owned a boat together. Dave taught me everything I know about how to pilot a boat. However, no one who’s boat has been hit by mine should hold that against him, since he taught me a lot more than I learned. One thing that did sink in is that a boat is not something to sink in. When properly launched, it should not go straight into the air like a rocket ship.
Do you know why it’s called the Long Island Sound? Neither do I, because whatever the Sound sounds like, I couldn’t hear it over the roar of the engine once we got out of the channel. We aired that baby out to the tune of about 40 miles per hour after we cleared the no-wake zone. Do you know why they call it a “wake?” Well, we flew over a big one and went airborne for what seemed like a few minutes, and when we landed it woke me right up from a nap I was planning two days in the future. We were out of the no-wake zone, but there should be a no-fly zone posted there instead.
We cruised around for a while and took in the sights. There are extensive oyster beds in the area, but I doubt they got a whole lot of sleep. You can tell where they are by flags that stick up above the water, which makes the place look like a golf course made up entirely of water hazards. We motored by Westport, Sherwood Island and turned around near Fairfield.
By this time everyone was getting hungry so we taxied into shallow water near what looked like a deserted island so we could eat our lunch. “Get ready to drop the anchor,” Dave called, “and try not to scratch the paint with the anchor chain.” Tony grabbed the anchor while I held the chain, and through a carefully coordinated effort we were able to scratch most of the paint off the bow, but to our credit we didn’t scratch any off the anchor chain. It was a beautiful day, and we had a bite to eat, drinking in the natural beauty of the area since no one remembered to bring beer. Here the quiet was interrupted only by the chatter of the herring gull and the call of the double-crested cormorant, which I took on my cell phone. Life on the deserted island didn’t look like it included dessert, which was disappointing.
But soon the cove started filling up fast with other boaters. People jumped in the water and began floating around on inner tubes, outer tubes, inflatable floaties and paddleboards, which are the new craze. Every time I see somebody on a paddleboard they look as if they mistakenly thought that they would be having way more fun than they presently are, standing around on a surfboard. One guy looked at my sandwich forlornly, and then started paddling away in the general direction of Domenick’s Deli.
If I’ve learned anything at all from “Gilligan’s Island,” it’s to prepare for every eventuality before you board the boat. Sure, everyone made fun of the Howells for bringing a trunkful of cash with them on an island tour, but there are no ATMs at the sand bar and I doubt they will take a personal check. Also, that transistor radio is going to be invaluable if we get shipwrecked and the Yankees play a day game. I’m guarding that radio with my life, because if somebody busts a transistor in it, I have no idea where get another one.
As the afternoon wore on and the shadows started getting longer, it was time to weigh anchor and get back to the boat launch. Dave hopped onto the bow to retrieve the anchor before Tony and I could volunteer, and we powered up and headed toward shore. It was a short ride at top speed until we got to the channel, where you can only go 5 miles per hour, and I was expecting the guy on the paddleboard to pass us.
I have a friend who has a giant sailboat, and I can’t imagine what happens if you get all the way out past the bay and the wind dies down. Well, actually, I can imagine it, that happens to be my strong suit. I picture me and two other couples drifting out from Long Island for a few days, and now we’re somewhere near the Galapagos Islands. “I’m pretty sure I can get us back home, if you’ll just let me generate some wind by telling a few stories about how I got kicked out of my high school math class for not baking cookies.” “That’s OK, I think the wind is about to pick up,” they all reply, almost in unison, though weak from lack of food and water...