Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Boating Creates Lifetime Memories

October 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

boating lifetime memories titleWarm memories come back to me whenever I see a waterway. I recall my boating days aboard my grandfather’s boat, Willetta, about a 20-foot Elco, on Long Island’s South Shore. I was 15 the last time my family and I were on that boat named after my grandmother. That was 1967, and yet the memories remain vivid today.

We spent Sundays as a family cruising from Charlie’s Boat Basin in Merrick. After church, my assignment was to pick up a dozen rolls at the bakery. Returning home, I’d add them to the bags of food gathered for the trip, and then my older sister and I packed the soda in the cooler along with the cold cuts. Sometimes we would stop at a deli in Merrick for a last minute item.

My grandparents would meet us at the dock. My father would carry his disabled mother aboard, and she would sit at the bow on a cushioned bench. My mother would head below into the cabin to start the coffee, while a table was set up on deck for lunch. I’d be swatting horse flies on the ceiling, but those pests kept coming back.

Bruce Groh 1959 photo aOnce we got underway, we would cruise past the buoys and head out to anchor near the Robert Moses Bridge. That’s when we’d enjoy our lunch. After eating, I’d make my way through the cabin, heading to the stern. I’d open the hatch, sit up top, and take in the sun. I’d watch the cabin cruisers pass by and the seagulls circle above. Other times, I’d remain in the cabin, lying on one of the bunk beds, drawing pictures of the water and boats or whatever else came to mind. (If it was late August, my mind would always be counting down the days before school started again.)

When it was time to head back, my sister would pull up the anchor. I would take hold of the rope below, placing it into a holding bin behind the toilet. As we headed back in, my sister and I tossed food to the gulls as they followed us back to the dock. My grandmother would be sitting at the bow with my mother, while my father stood alongside his father. As my grandfather steered, they talked about boating and different kinds of boat engines.

Bruce Groh 1959 photoOur outings on grandfather’s boat stopped when he became too ill. Nowadays, I live down the road from a beach, and the passing boaters remind me of my younger years on Willetta as well as on my father’s vessel (he owned a 16-foot fiberglass boat that he never named). When I see anglers these days, I recall how much my father loved to fish. I did not share his interest, but from time to time I’d go with him anyway.

I was blessed to have had a stable family life, and reminiscing about boating reminds me of how close we were as a family on and off the water. Nothing will ever replace or surpass my boating memories.

By Bruce Groh

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