Karen sits back in a blue West Marine chair making faces at Connor. Scrunched in a bulky, red life jacket he’s uncomfortable but musters a smile back at her. Beneath the chair, tethered by her pink leash, is our pup Salty. Tongue dangling from her mouth, she too is enjoying the ride.
It’s at this moment, looking down from the flybridge of my new Bertram 28 that I release my breath and wonder, does it get any better than this?
I’ve long felt extremely lucky to be born into a boating family. It allowed me to travel and form my own opinions of this country. I learned at a young age how to talk to adults on the dock. I learned to fish. I was given an ocean for my imagination to run wild on. I learned the value of taking time to relax and be present with your friends and family aboard.
Karen and I owned a sailboat for seven years before selling it in the spring of 2020. Watching her grow to love boating and learn the sense of pride that comes from boat projects has been special, no doubt about it. But this trip, the first with my eight-month-old aboard, this one feels extra special. Part of it could be that we were going substantially faster than our previous boat’s 5-knot top end, or because I was driving it atop Cloud 9. But really, it was because I’d dreamed of this moment for so long that when it happened it was akin to an out-of-body experience.
It was a short ride–I’m doing my best to ease my growing family into the powerboat world. We cruise up and down the river and in short order we’re tied back up to our mooring in Essex. With bottled up energy to burn, I convert the salon table into a berth for Connor to crawl and play atop. It can be amazing how little a child needs to entertain themselves sometimes (key word!).
Before long Connor had wiped himself out and he–and his dad–were itching for a nap. Driving home he fell asleep immediately. Peeking back at the little boy in his bathing suit, orange sun shirt and red, white and blue sun hat just about covering his eyes, smelling of sunscreen and tuckered out from his first day on the boat, it was a heart-warming moment.
He obviously won’t remember his first day on the water, but it’s one I’ll never forget.