I slid into the picnic table with four water bottles in hand and looked back at my crew. Sweaty and tired eyes—Karen’s, Connor’s, even those of my faithful, adventure-loving companion Salty—stared back at me.
“A little hydration and we’ll be good as new,” I said more to myself than anyone. My crew had long stopped listening to me.
We’d just walked a mile and half to a small pizza shop on Shelter Island for dinner, but we looked and felt as if we’d just stumbled into the aid station of a marathon. The temperature on my phone read 95 degress, but the humidity made it feel as if a wet carpet had been draped over our shoulders. By the time our piping slices arrived we only had the heart to nibble around the edges.
Prior to dinner, we had found some relief in the marina pool, but after pruning and wrinkling like a slug in salt, we were forced to seek refuge back on the non-air-conditioned boat. Cold beverages helped, until they didn’t. An evening swim in the harbor cooled me off, until it didn’t.
Mercifully, the sun fell beyond the horizon, and the temperature retreated oh-so-slowly. Connor whined more than a bachelorette party at a vineyard while Karen read book after book trying to coax him to sleep. Only through sheer will of force would she outlast him in an 18-round knock down, drag out bedtime routine.
Sleep was fitful for all of us. At 6:30 the sun again boldly blasted through our cabin windows. Connor and Salty gleefully greeted the day while the temperature climbed to 80 degrees all too early. In desperate need of a shower we all climbed into the dinghy, bound for shore. I showered first while Karen and co. found a seat in the shade. I have to say, the cool shower helped rejuvenate the soul. Maybe day two of our long-awaited summer trip would be better, I thought. Coming out whistling with a towel over one shoulder, I took one look at my usually smiling crew and knew I was wrong. The three of them were already beading with sweat. I took the towel from my shoulder and waved it. We were going home.
The best piece of seamanship advice I was ever given, and have quoted myself, is that the most dangerous thing on the water is an itinerary. In this case, the seas were calm and the skies were clear; it was the temperature I didn’t show enough respect for. Lesson learned the sticky way.
Idling out of the harbor without so much as a breath of wind, I was sweating from my eyeballs. We finally found a blissful break when I pushed the boat to 24 knots and soared across a bar-top-flat Long Island Sound.
Salty let her tongue hang out in the fresh breeze in the cockpit, Connor began napping in his crib and Karen smiled a big, authentic smile for the first time in 36 hours. With one of my favorite boating songs—Billy Joel’s Down Easter Alexa—cranking from my Bluetooth speaker and a happy crew, I found myself smiling too.
I’ll try to not force the fun so much going forward. At least until next weekend.
Since I was a kid, I’ve found enjoyment in writing about my boating adventures. I always enjoy revisiting old stories and bringing memories made on the water back to life. As I begin a new chapter in my boating life, and try to pass along the boating gene to my son Connor, I will be keeping a regular blog that can be found at boyandaboat.com. I hope you’ll enjoy a more intimate view of my boating life there. —Daniel Harding Jr.