Runaway Dinghy

We have been back home for a month or so now, and as much as I thought I was ready for it and even longed for it, I am already fighting the sedentary restlessness that is bearing down on me.

I figure, if I can’t be on the boat right now, I can at least write about it.

Our last trip on the water before we came back home was so dreamy and full of love and friendship. My good friends Mike and Max came down from New York to join us on our new floating house. Nothing can really add up to the fulfillment of human connection on a boat.

Photo by Maxwell Hammad

Luckily for us, Max is an amazing photographer and took the most lovely photos of our adventure.

We spent a few nights at Taylor Creek before we headed out for the cape.

Hermit Crab
Yum

The wild horses showed off their pretty manes and tails on Carrot Island.

Wild Horse of Carrot Island

It didn’t take much to convince Adam and I to go to the cape again. It was inevitable really.

Emilia is always ready.

Photo by Maxwell Hammad

And come to think of it, so is Adam.

Adam, captain ready.

We hit the water the next morning for a quick ride to Cape Lookout.

Photo by Maxwell Hammad

Poor Mike and Max weren’t even awake when we hit the ocean. The inlet isn’t really the first way I would choose to wake up.

This time though, I took Jim’s advice and called the local tow boat US the night before we left. I asked them, somewhat embarrassed, “when should I not go through the Beaufort Inlet to the Cape?” He said to avoid a falling tide with opposing winds, especially strong ones, especially in the afternoon. Those are the kryptonite conditions of the Beaufort Inlet. He was so nice and happy to answer my obvious questions. In the future, if in doubt, call your local tow boat us and ask.

After we dropped anchor, we did all the things, and enjoyed every minute of it with friends.

photo by Maxwell Hammad
Cape Lookout
photo by Maxwell Hammad

Before the evening was over, Mike and I took the dinghy to shore to do some pre dinner shell hunting. The shells were great, and the conversation was even better. As we climbed the dunes from the ocean side to get back over to the protected shore, I saw a little dinghy way off in the distance, in the middle of the protected waters of the cape, seemingly driverless.

Surely that’s not our dinghy.

Did I put the dinghy anchor out?

Even mike was quick to dismiss it. It’s funny how when you see something abnormal, your brain wants to make it seem normal at the cost of all logic and reason.

As much as I wanted to believe it wasn’t our dinghy, reason took hold and I remembered clearly NOT putting the dinghy anchor out.

We rushed to the beach to see three men wading out in the water to retrieve the autonomous dinghy. As we were running and waving our arms screaming “That’s our boat!”, I was repeatedly screaming to Mike not to tell Adam about this. “He will never live this down if he finds out!”

Then I looked out past the dinghy which was being towed to shore by our local do-gooders and saw Adam paddling the kayak like a speed machine towards the mayhem.

Too late.

Hopefully I didn’t lose all my dinghy rights.

We left the next morning and put both our sails out as we headed back towards the inlet.

Photo by Maxwell Hammad
Photo by Maxwell Hammad
Photo by Maxwell Hammad

We parted ways with my friends in Beaufort, and took the boat back to Oriental. Where she still resides. Not in total isolation however. A boat like this does not do well without use. It’s also expensive as hell, and we intend to get a little bit of financial reprieve while we are away from her. She will be in charter off and on while we are in Asheville.

In the meantime, back home, landlocked, with a toddler, in the middle of a pandemic… I’m ready. to. get. out. of. here.

I have organized all my sea shells, and am working on some new ways to incorporate them into my art. (Trying to do so without the usual cheese that goes along with sea shell art.)

Adam is driving Emilia and I crazy by taking out his restlessness on all the flies in the house. If he’s not engaged in a project, he’s lurking around the window sills using his hat to smash at (imaginary?) flies all day.

For the month or so that we spent as a family on the boat, everything felt right and made sense… except for two things: Our two year old doesn’t know how to swim, and I can’t read the weather for shit.

I have decided to address the first of those two things. Emilia will not leave the safety of the cabin without her life jacket on for some time to come, but I still feel the obvious threat. While on a boat, one is surrounded by water.

And here are some terrifying statistics for you moms out there. (those of you that know me, know I love statistics). According to Infant Swimming Resource, the leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1-4 is drowning.

These aren’t kids that live on boats. These are just normal, average kids and babies doing normal everyday things. Usually there is a pool involved. IN FACT, I almost drowned when I was just a few years old. I fell into a pool behind a friends house while everyone was inside. I was rescued by someone mowing the grass nearby. My sister also had a near drowning experience in a pool as a child.

It is much easier to worry about something that FEELS dangerous, versus actual health risks all around us which often come in the guise of things that are meant to comfort us, like fast food and pill bottles. In fact, the 3rd leading cause of all deaths in the US is … wait for it.

Medical Error.

Yikes, all the way up there with heart disease and cancer.

Anyways, away from my compulsive statistical analysis of life, and back to the water. I felt I needed to address the swimming thing with a quickness. I have actually been taking water safety swim lessons for over a year with Emilia. We started them before we took her to a little island off the coast of Panama for a month. But as much as they made me feel better about bringing her to the water, is she actually going to survive a fall in the water without a lifejacket? I had to answer that question with an honest ‘no.’ Why did I take those classes for so long if they weren’t teaching her to be water safe? Because I was somewhat misinformed, and because there is no ISR teacher in Asheville, NC. ISR appears to be the only legitimate course that will instill water safety in young children. In ISR, babies and young children learn to survive the water. At the YMCA, babies and kids will learn to be comfortable in the water. I might argue that that’s actually the opposite of what we want our kids to be in the water if they can’t yet swim and float on their backs.

The closest ISR instructor to Asheville is in Johnson City, TN. Over an hour away. The classes are very specific. They are 5 days/week, for however many weeks it takes, and exactly 8 minutes long per class in the water.

I have been driving to Johnson City, Tennessee and back every week day for an 8 minute lesson.

And as horrendously time consuming and gas guzzling as it sounds, its worth every second of those 8 minutes.

It’s probably the most inspiring thing Ive ever witnessed, watching Emilia brave the waters of each lesson even when she is at the very edge of her comfort zone. She shows up with the courage only a toddler can exemplify, and comes away fostering independence of body and mind.

I’m hoping the next time we go to the boat, this little girl will know how to swim, and I will know how to do basic weather routing.

9 thoughts on “Runaway Dinghy

  1. Glad you were able to get the dingy before it got too far out. I have never had that happen…this year.
    Sounds like you are getting better at sailing. Super
    Stan

    Like

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