Friday, September 16, 2011



On a Thursday morning, August 18th, we set sail for Catalina Island on the vessel Macs'. Technically speaking, we motored the whole way over, with the main sail up for stability, because there's never any wind in the morning. It was a fast crossing, only 3 and a half hours, because my Dad duck taped the throttle to the bottom of the cock pit.

This was your, Zachary, and Jay's first trip to Catalina. It's a special place for our family - when I was a girl we spent our summers sailing back and forth across the channel. In my teens I always invited way too many friends, so that we squeezed 9 girls onto a 29 foot sailboat and my father had to sleep up on deck. On one memorable trip my father traded all our food for an enormous sword fish. You can probably guess that most teenaged girls do not respond well to their Special K being replaced by a huge stinking fish.

My dad grew up on a boat, so he spent a lot of time in Catalina as a boy. My grandparents used to make the crossing in the middle of the night, so that my Dad and his brothers and sisters would wake up to the boat rocking in its anchorage, the beach and the hills just a short swim away. My parents did that for my sister and I, and it really is magical to fall asleep to hum of the motor and wake up at first light to see the island rocking just outside your cabin, to climb up into the fog, leave footprints on the dew damp deck, to brush your teeth and spit over the hull and see the fish swarm in water so clear you can see straight to the bottom. My dad wanted to do this for you and Zachary, but nobody else was willing to leave at midnight.

The plan was to spend one night in Emerald Bay and and next at the Isthmus, where they have modern facilities like toilets, showers, an ice cream stand and a bar. But there was a mooring reservation snafu, so we spent all our time in Emerald. I didn't mind. It's my favorite place. The water is clear, the beaches have pebbles instead of sand, and there's this feeling I get, leftover from childhood, of possibility, that the world is big and there is so much to be explored. In all honesty though, I did very little "exploring" - this was the most sedentary Catalina trip I have ever made. I spent a lot of time just laying at the waters edge, letting the waves cool my legs. It felt wonderful to let the water slowly take all my weight.

You had a lot of fun. Grandpa took you for rides in baby boat and Daddy took you kayaking. We played on the beach and threw rocks in the water and did a little rock climbing. Daddy and Uncle Clint fished. We cooked dinner on the boat and you loved running around the decks sticking your head in the portholes and calling "Bee-o-weep!" which is a word you made up and love to say. We ended each day with a mug of hot chocolate and you and Daddy slept together in a quarter berth. Daddy was so tired the first night that he fell asleep before you did.

Let it be known that taking your family to Catalina is a lot of work. Sailing is a lot of work. Not that I personally did much work, but I watched other people do it and it looked intense. And, keeping your child from falling off a boat is also a lot of work. I'm proud to say that I took a more active role on that front.

Being a parent I've realized that so many things that were special to me as a child were a pain in the ass for my parents. Sailing across the channel in the middle of the night. Driving to Utah in the middle of the night. Taking two young children skiing. A truly horrendous number of soccer games. Being a parent takes some serious stamina. When you were a newborn, I thought of mothering as a blood sport. Now I think of it as more of an endurance sport.

Maybe in a few years, when you and Zachary and Fred are all sleeping through the night, we'll put that midnight crossing to another vote, and Popi won't be the only one with his hand in the air.

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