No one said they had to be in order...
The Engineer and I got married in June, 1992. I was a seventh grade math teacher, he was an engineering student. Obviously, we had no money. Our honeymoon was a road trip from Colorado to the Briarpatch in Annapolis, MD. Nothing like starting your marriage driving 1800 miles in a 1976 Volvo. He'd spent time at the beach as a child, but had never been sailing. I was SO excited to show him where I'd spent summers growing up, and ever so excited to teach HIM something.
The Engineer does know everything. He grew up at his father's side, learning every sort of home improvement project as they added to their house and built a terraced garden. He was also employed as his neighbor's handy-man by the age of 12, and then worked at greenhouses doing more than watering plants - he built the greenhouses. It's hard to find something he can't do. I thought I'd found it. He didn't know sailing, but I did!
We'd already spent three days on the road, a whole day in a lovely, nameless suburb of St. Louis getting a new alternator after we blew ours up on the beltway at 2 a.m, then five days at his aunt's condo on the beach in Ocean City, and were now at my beloved Briarpatch. Married nine whole days. Time for some conflict! Let's go sailing!
I'm on fire-hose mode as I explain all about how to launch and how to recognize the poison ivy on the boat ramp and how you don't have to wear you life jacket as an adult as long as you have it along and the paddle goes here but you also need a bailing bucket because the self draining plug doesn't work so well in brackish water brackish means that this estuary which is a mix of fresh water coming down the rivers mixing with the salt water coming up the bay from the Atlantic makes it yes salty but not as salty as the ocean...and he's not listening. He's just taking in the view. I appreciate that. It's a gorgeous view. (The picture is taken from our back porch)
Mill Creek, which is where we have our waterfront property, empties into White Hall Bay, a little indentation in the Chesapeake Bay, near the Bay Bridge, and just north of the West River, which is where you'll find the Naval Academy and Annapolis. You used to be able to find White Hall Bay by the radio towers, which blinked so romantically at night, but they took those down. Damn.
If the wind is blowing at about 20-25 knots out in the Bay, it's perfect Sunfish weather at our end of the creek. And 90% of the time, the wind is blowing down the creek, which means you've got to go against the wind (can't you hear Bob Seger right now?) the whole way up to the channel leading out to White Hall Bay. It's not often we've made it that far with the Sunfish, mostly because it takes a while, and it's usually someone else's turn by then. But also because compared to who is usually out there sailing, our small Sunfish is an annoyance, not easily maneuvered out the way, and the wind does die with little notice. An hour of paddling it home with one tiny paddle is not fun. After you've done that once, you're really not anxious to do it again. That's why most of our Sunfish sailing has been racing back and forth and up and down our end of the creek. There's lots of maneuvering room, we're beyond the sandbar and the gas station so there's hardly ANY traffic to speak of. Think of it like a cul-de-sac. So you take your turn, and then when the impatient person on the dock yells loudly enough that you really can't pretend anymore that you didn't hear him, you head back in and give up your turn. And yes, there's a reason for all of this back story. Patience!
The Engineer and I head out for our first sailing experience together with me at the helm. I start to explain about reaching and tacking and winds and I've barely begun. Seriously. I think we've hard alee'd maybe once. He says, “Ok, I've got it.” And reaches for the rudder and the mainsail “rope”. (He refused to learn the names of the different “ropes”. Stubborn man.) I start to protest. “You can't learn sailing in three minutes! It was several summers before I understood it completely!” He calmly looks at me. “I'm an engineer. I've got it. Winds, vectors, it's easy. Seriously. Let me have the rudder now honey, you relax, I'm taking you sailing. Let's go out in the Bay.” I was willing to give in to him having learned to sail in three minutes, but this part I had to explain. So I start in on what I explained to you in the previous paragraph. He doesn't buy it. He still wants to go “where no man has gone before.” He wants to take his new wife on an adventure. “But didn't you sometimes wish that your Dad wasn't so sensible and cautious, and so courteous to the other big boats? Didn't you just want to go out there, with the big waves, in the small boat, and see what it's like? I'll take care of you.”
So we went. And the brand new sailor navigated us through the channel. (For you non-sailors, it's a path marked with red and green placards on posts to show where the trench is for the fixed keel boats, (they don't want to run aground.) Of course we COULD have pulled up ours, but he wanted the challenge of navigating it. Of course he did. And we didn't turn for home until we were starving. Really starving. It was a great time. With lots of "I love yous" and lots of wondeful gazing at each other, and lots of adventure. Lots of splashing too. Big waves out there. Exploration. And me learning early on to just let go and trust him and let him "drive".
It did take us a long time to get home, though. But he didn't let me paddle. He paddled the whole way home. After all, he had promised to take care of me.