There’s nothing better than a good sea story. Two of my favorites take place on the same body of water, decades apart. The first happened when I was around 10 years old; I remember being below on my family’s Egg Harbor, which was rare and reserved for only the roughest of trips. We were making our way through sporty seas when my dad turned into the Shinnecock Canal where seas continued to build.
Before long, huge breaking waves appeared off our stern. Every horse from our Yanmar diesels spurred into action as my dad swung the boat around to face the seas head on. Now, remember, I was young, but to this day I can vividly recall the towering wall of water—think of the wave in The Perfect Storm—standing ahead of us. It gives me chills to think about being in my dad’s Sperrys at this point. He pushed the throttles to the pins, and we climbed the wave for what felt like minutes. The family dog was in a crate on the flybridge, which started to slide off but thankfully got stuck at the ladder at the last second. We flew off the crest and dropped into the trough—our stomachs rising to our throats like we were on a roller coaster.
Hours later, we would find ourselves tied safely in a slip. I can imagine how my dad’s first beer at the dock must have tasted. We don’t talk about that day often, but for me, it helped cement my old man as my boating hero. My brother and I still shake our heads when we watch him stick that boat in the tightest slip a harbor master can conjure.
The second story is one that gets retold far too often when my colleagues and I have a drink together. A cadre of colleagues and I were taking a borrowed, $1.5 million yacht from Essex, Connecticut, to my wedding on Long Island. Tide and current caught hold of the motoryacht as we approached the locks in the Shinnecock Canal such that I couldn’t turn around and re-maneuver. I was forced to thread this doublewide-beam boat through a narrow channel beside the lock.
All I can say is thank God for IPS. I made it through with inches to spare, and made it to the altar on time. This act by no means makes me a legend; it just made me incredibly lucky. But like any good legend, it’s a story that grows with each passing year.
Here’s the thing about becoming a legend. Nine times out of 10, you don’t set out to become one; it’s usually the result of following your passion. In this issue we profile a number of characters who qualify as legends in our sport, from Al Grover, the first person to cross the Atlantic in an outboard-powered boat, to Kathy Sullivan, who would become the first person to visit space and the bottom of the ocean; they both experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows—quite literally in the latter example. We profile Damien Leloup, whose interest in marine biology led him to crew under Jacques Cousteau, and have a one-of-a-kind story on a one-of-a-kind-man, Reggie Fountain. To be fair, he’s probably that one out of 10 who did in fact dream of fame and fortune.
Lest we forget, there’s also our cover star, Broadway Joe Namath, a man who needs no introduction. The Super Bowl-winning superstar has transferred his love of football to something a little more relaxing, our chosen pastime of boating. Senior Editor Simon Murray—a lifelong Jets fan—joined him for a day on the water and captured a rare glimpse of Joe Namath the boater.
I like to joke with Simon that it was nice to make a suffering Jets fan happy if only for a day, but I have a feeling it was an encounter he’ll never forget.
The thing with all of these individuals is that behind their achievements and accolades is a passion for boating and a genuine love of the water. I hope this issue inspires you to chase your own boating dreams.