WRECKLESS

WRECKLESS by Nannette Porco We were a young, married couple with three children in the late 60’s. Back then, we had a lot of energy and extraordinary positive attitudes. Although we had not many assets, my husband, a bright lawyer, decided that sailing would be a great weekend endeavor. So, he pursued the idea of buying a boat, basing the decision of which company the purchase would be made from on who would grant us full financing. The result: a purchase of a 32’ Cheoy Lee, an elegant, graceful model that, to us, looked like she could sail herself. We embarked on our maiden voyage with our Salesperson, our three children (ages 6, 8 and 10) and the family dog. At the hands of an experienced seaman, sailing seemed to be easy, almost intuitive. After that exhilarating ride, we returned to our dock, feeling extremely confident and excited to take the next leap to sailing by ourselves. I mean, how hard could this be? Reckless? Perhaps. After all, we didn’t even know how to sail! But we were young, enthusiastic and full of adventure, as we pulled out of the dock the next day and embarked on our journey. Things started off well, until we pulled between two jetties and began to raise the sails. I remained at the helm while my husband wrestled the wind to put the sail up. As the wind blew fiercely, my husband shouted, “Go to port, go to port,” to which I dutifully obeyed. (Was ‘port’ right or left?). Before we knew it, the boat slammed into the rocks, while my husband tried to hold on to the shackles that ultimately fell into the water. All this in the first ten minutes of our trip! Another friendly boater may have helped us off the rocks, but he didn’t exactly help when he said, “Lady, you’re in big trouble!” Defeated, we headed back to the marina. As we pulled in, I tossed the lines to a nice gentleman on the dock offering to help and, knowing very little about docking technique, I somehow managed to get the line caught between my legs as he pulled, landing me firmly on my rump. Ouch! I sat embarrassed while the Captain put the boat firmly in reverse because our speed was gravely misjudged and we were headed straight for the dock! My hero jumped off the boat onto the dock yelling for our eldest to “Kill the engine!” which he had luckily showed her how to do earlier. Despite that effort, the boat slammed into the dock, as my husband held on to a tar-slicked creosote pole all in his dress whites. Boy, were we ever a sight to behold! As we gathered our wits and belongings after the catastrophe, a nice young chap exclaimed how he admired us for our courage in daring to venture out when there is a “small craft warning.” Oh, so that’s what that red ball meant! Despite a less than perfect first solo outing, we persisted and after a month or so, we got the hang of it and wanted to explore the Long Island Sound. And so, with our Texaco road maps, we sailed off. As we sailed along at a good clip, there was a serious gust of wind which snapped the turnbuckles and the mast went down, narrowly missing all of us and the dog. (I guess I was meant to tell this story someday!). Shaken, we powered into the nearest marina and stayed over night. Needless to say, a Power Squadron course was our next port of call and after completing it, we were now emboldened with our new found knowledge and immediately sailed off for another weekend. The day was divine, everything went smoothly, but as we approached dusk and started heading home, a thick fog surrounded us. I grabbed a search light and desperately searched for buoys to guide us home. As luck would have it, a police boat appeared out of nowhere to assist us. We heard, “Captain, can we help you?” and the rest of the instructions were completely incoherent! So, we fumbled our way with the directions we could make out only to realize that we were in fact lost in our own port! The boat was christened “Wreckless.” Though we gave up sailing soon after, we kept the sign as a reminder of some lessons learned. We exchanged the boat for a lovely house on the water that doesn’t float! Life somehow feels less reckless.