It all got started in Buffalo, NY and nearby Ontario, Canada. More precisely Crescent Beach in Ontario. When I was 8 to 12 years old (~1950) we rented a cottage there for most of the summer. This was on Lake Erie across from Buffalo. Our first boat was a 12 foot aluminum boat. If it had a motor I don't remember when, where or what; what I do remember is it sank. Of course, it couldn't sink because it had flotation tanks, but it sank none-the-less. I know, I saw it happen. Fortunately I was too young to know that it was our boat or that it was my father at the helm, which was upside down when I saw it. All I remember is that there was an upside boat on the horizon slowly getting lower in the water.
As my father told it, his last words were "don't stand up." I am sure there were others that he was too polite to tell me - but, I can guess - and, I suspect so can you. It all started when a neighbor asked dad to take a friend fishing. He did, which turned out to be a mistake. They both hooked a big fish, probably the same fish. In the resulting battle of man versus fish, the fish won. The man stood up and the boat capsized. The floatation tanks deserted the sinking ship by springing loose from their under-seat positions. All to no avail on their part, they sprang leaks and sank. The boat sank. My father's tackle box sank, the anchor sank, almost evrything sank. To my father's regret, the "friend" did not sink, they were both rescued. After that we bought a wooden boat. It never sank.
Our new boat was a 16 foot lapstrake, green and white, "Shell Lake" boat with a 5 horse-power Neptune outboard. We used it for many years, eventually on the Ohio River when we moved to West Virginia when I was 14.
My first boat, a 14 foot, red wooden boat, was a survivor from a particular nasty and long lasting Lake Erie storm. The wandering craft came to berth itself in a marsh on the western point of the beach, from where I "rescued" it. We let it sit in front of the cottage for a month in case (hopefully, not) someone wanted to claim it. When that did not happen I organized a work party of friends and they painted it white.
As the fates would have it a Catholic Monsignor, who happened to be the Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo, was visiting a neighbor and was watching me direct the work party.
He came over that night and told my parents that I was destined to be a Bishop, since I was so good at getting other people to do my work for me. Instead, of course, I became a College Professor, the one position in which you can be sure that absolutely no one does what you tell them to do.
I tried to convince my parents to buy me a 1.5 HP Neptune for my "new" boat, but alas, my grandparents raised no dummies, so I rigged an oar as a mast and a bed sheet as a sail and a sailor of a sort was born. The boat was a square rigger (what did I know) and could only sail with the wind. With the wind along the shore. the crew and I would sail down the beach, douse the sail, jump out, haul the boat back up the beach, and repeat all the fun.
Unfortunately, as things turned out, I was not a good supervisor, nor my friends good painters, as large blocks of white paint pealed off the hull, leaving behind red blushes. This led to its being reclaimed by the rightful owner later that summer.
Shortly after that we moved to West Virginia, followed quickly by High School, girls, and football, with a little studying and boating thrown into the mix.And then there was college, no girls, no football, no boating, but lots of studying, not much fun, but Graduate School changed that. Still the studies were there, but Notre Dame finally got a winning coach, Ara Parseghian, and more importantly than all that I met Kay.
I was a first year grad student and Kay a freshman at nearby Saint Mary's. She was not only beautiful and smart, but, also, loved the outdoors. Perfect! We were married after her Sophomore year (43 years ago) and vacationed in "exotic" Isle Royale National Park.
If you are not familiar with the park, it is an island about 30 miles from Northern Minnesota in Lake Superior. It is best known for its oscillating (predator/prey) populations of wolves and moose. The moose we found, the wolves we didn't. However, later that summer, we did come across a wolf pack in the Tamarack region of Northern Minnesota. As they circled our little Triumph they seemed curious about us, we were delighted to see them.
The only boating involved in all of this were the trips over to Isle Royale, and the trip back. The first is plural because on the first try it was so rough that almost everyone including the Captain got sick and we had to turn back. (BTW on the Island I did manage to catch the smallest muskie, on the largest lake, on the largest island, on the largest lake in the world.)
The only memorable event which occurred between our first meeting and our wedding two years later, occurred just prior to our second (and nearly last) date. A hobby, not particularly enthusiastically shared by my wife, is snake collecting. There is a relatively rare rattlesnake called a Massasauga. I knew that they liked Northern bogs and that there were several such bogs in nearby Southern Michigan. So I recruited a couple of friends and off we went. Looking through one of the bogs we at first found none. And then ... the distinctive rattle. Looked to the North. Looked to the South. East and West. No snake. Looked down and there between my feet a friendly looking rattlesnake looked up at me, waving its tail back and forth. OOPS!
I captured the critter without further misadventure and thereafter several others. All of which we bagged. Then I realized I was already a half hour late for our date so we hurried back. Not having time to do anything intelligent with the bag of rattlesnakes I did what I thought was the next best thing. I left the bag and its contents in a relatively unused, or so I thought, closet in the Physics Department and left for my date with Kay. I still think the secretary who went into the closet and accidentally kicked the bag overreacted, and I certainly think whoever ordered the evacuation of the entire science building certainly overreacted, ...
but at least I was remembered for awhile.
And the early years ended.
The next two years were fun, we were married and enjoying it, and, also not so much fun. My research advisor was leaving and I had to finish a year before I planned. Eventually I did finish and now it was time for a decission. What to do next? Conventional wisdom said I should seek a "Post Doc" at as prestigious of a university I could find. After some thought I realised that my winning a Nobel Prize was only slightly more likely than a 16 year old son voluntarily taking advice from his father. So rather than electing to be a small fish in a big pond we decided to live by a pond, a really big pond, an ocean.Back to boating!