It was an August morning in 1974 when I glanced through my bay window watching the fog lift from the Long Beach jetties. Excited to see some sun peeking through, I noticed my sweetheart, Jimmy, coming up my walkway and stooping to pick up the Daily News. I swung the front door open before his touch reached the door bell.
“Hello lover!” I exclaimed.
“Hello my Sweet Dumpling. Are you ready to see the Hampton Bays?”
“I’m ready!” I exclaimed as Jimmy’s six foot five muscular frame bent down to give me a big smooch.
“Sailing is my passion, only second to you!” Jimmy stated, “This is going to be a great sailing adventure.”
“Just call me “Miss Adventure”. “Wonder Woman” is already taken.” I replied as we both embraced and laughed.
“I packed a lunch with our favorite wine. Do you think we need anything else?”
“Maybe a set of clothes for dinner, I’m thinking we’ll eat in Southampton.”
“Okay!” I responded scurrying to my closet to get a sundress.
“There’s a zipper on that bag, right? I don’t want anything to fall out while we’re sailing.” He explained.
This was my first sailing experience. I didn’t know what to expect. But I was confident in Jimmy’s prowess. Jimmy was an avid sailor, learning everything about sailing from his Dad, a Sergeant in the New York City Police Department. This experience had Jimmy employed as a NYPD Harbor Patrolman.
It was a fabulous hot day as we scurried, hand in hand carrying my blue canvas zippered bag, clothes and the Daily News, to my 1973 white on white Coupe Deville to start our adventure.
“Are you sure you know where we’re going? Should I get a map?” I asked gingerly.
“Don’t be silly, I know the Hampton Bays like the back of my hand.”
“Okay then; I’ll sit back and read you the newspaper while you drive, Captain.” And we both burst out into laughter.
An hour into our drive on the Sunrise Highway, I finished reading to Jimmy about Nixon’s resigning after Watergate.
“Wow, I never would believe I’d experience an American President resigning.” I sighed.
“It’s a crazy world out there, Sweetie.”
“Here’s important news.” I said sternly, turning to the horoscope section. “This’ll tell us what today will bring, Listen up!”
“Oh God!” Jimmy moaned.
“Leo, that’s me. Beware of mechanical malfunctions. Stay close to home. Enjoy the company of friends.” I looked out the car window questioning myself what I just read.
“Does this mean we have to turn around and go home?” Jimmy teased.
“I’m not sure. What do you think?”
“Well, here’s some good news, Sweet Cheeks. There aren’t any mechanical parts on a catamaran. It’s like a big trampoline with a sail on two pontoons. You’ll be perfectly safe.” Jimmy stated in a comforting tone as Donovan sang “Mellow Yellow” on the car radio.
“Wait! Let’s take a look at you, Libra! It says: Don’t throw caution to the wind. Look for setbacks in your travels today. Be extremely careful in all you do.”
An uncomfortable silence permeated between us as though an elephant was in the car.
Eventually Jimmy found the beach area parking lot. In front of us stood a row of catamarans with a tan, muscular man standing by a podium under a huge colorful green and white striped umbrella.
Jimmy ran to him as though they were friends. Meanwhile, getting out of the car, I adjusted my bathing suit, popped the trunk and retrieved our blue canvass bag. After their friendly exchanges, I could see Jimmy handing the gentleman a wad of cash and waved for me to catch up. The two men dragged a light blue catamaran along the sand to the water’s edge, then Jimmy tied the blue canvass zipped bag to the mast. They then pushed the “Cat” into the choppy waves. We were wading in waist deep water when Jimmy signaled me to jump on.
“Okay, I just don’t want to embarrass myself.” I said sheepishly. That’s when the attendant gave me a boost on my second try, pushing me over the pontoon. I bounced on the canvass, laughing as I attempted to gain some stability. Jimmy jumped on, grabbed the rudder, pulled a line hoisting the sail and off we went. It was amazing, how what seemed like in moments, we were catching the wind and heading for parts unknown on the bay.
We were sailing about an hour when Jimmy started looking toward the shore.
“What are you looking for, Jimmy?”
“I just thought we’d slow it down a bit and have some quiet time before lunch.” Jimmy’s eyebrows made the up-down motions like “Groucho Marks” but his thoughts were more of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s get it on.”
“Sounds like a good idea to me. It’s incredibly quiet.” My eyes wandered to a small channel. Jimmy dropped the sail as we glided into that tiny secluded entrance.
Our bodies were caked with salted spray. Removing our bathing suits for a quick dip, we engaged in passionate kisses. Once back on the “Cat”, we massaged lotion over our skin. Our naked bodies felt the warm rhythmic beating of the sun. We were immersed in love till we heard voices. Quickly we sat up. Without a word, Jimmy put up the sail, drifting us back into the bay.
“Oh my God, that was close!” I smirked.
“I think it’s best if we start back to the launching area. Some dark clouds are moving in. We shouldn’t be in the middle of the bay when this storm blows through.”
“Good idea, honey.” Reaching to retrieve my bathing suit, I saw the blue canvass bag start to lift up over my head, along with the mast. In one motion, the catamaran catapulted over us. I managed to catch my suit in flight, as I plunged into the water watching bubbles rise from my mouth and nose.
“Oh my God, I’m going to drown!” I thought, watching the sail block out the sunlight above me. Eventually surfacing, I noticed Jimmy swimming toward me. Reaching out, he reassured me I was going to be okay.
“Jimmy, what’s happening?”
“Hold on to me.” He instructed. “I want to you grasp on to this lower pontoon. I’m going to try to free the mast buried in the sand. Can you tread water here? Are you okay with this?” I nodded.
“We’ll be okay once I flip the “Cat” over.”
I watched the “Cat” shift back and forth as Jimmy tried to free the mast from the bottom. But the boat didn’t budge. In a big splash, Jimmy surfaced. The wind started to pick up as dark clouds were closing in on us with waves at a one foot chop.
“Hang on here! I’m going to pull down on the upper pontoon and the wind should catch the canvass, righting the mast out of the water. I know you can swim. You may have to release yourself from the “Cat” when this happens.” My eyes were fixated on his mouth as he spoke the words.
I knew I could swim if I let go. I watched Jimmy climb up reaching for the upper pontoon. He tugged and tugged. With his fifth attempt, the wind caught the canvass and the “Cat” righted itself. Once again I was thrust down below the surface. Resurfacing, I watched Jimmy jump aboard and pull the sail down securing the “Cat”. As I treaded water, with one full swoop of his muscular arm, he grabbed me and tossed me onto the canvass with a thud. I felt the air compress from my lungs. Looking up at the mast, I watched the sea water escape from my blue canvass zippered bag saying,
“I’m glad the bottle of wine made it, not so much for the chicken salad. But I can sure use a drink.”
“We’re almost back to the beach, Sweetie, rest, we’re okay now.” Jimmy’s sober voice comforted me. I was no longer afraid.
As we approached the shore, Jimmy jumped off and guided the “Cat” as the attendant met us. The two men pushed the catamaran well up onto the sand. I laid on the canvass resting as Jimmy explained to the attendant of the capsizing. I watched them inspecting the pontoons.
“There it is!” Jimmy exclaimed, “That’s the crack that filled the pontoon with water causing the “Cat” to list and flip.”
Hearing that, I released the zippered blue bag from the mast and climbed off the catamaran, hoping that there wouldn’t be a confrontation. Turning around, I saw Jim receive some money and shake the attendant’s hand.
At last, Jimmy slipped into the driver’s seat and we engaged in an embrace, more out of relief as he jokingly commented, “You’re not “Miss Adventure”, you’re more like “Misadventure”. Again, we laughed, as the “Cat’s” masts swayed in the wind as if waving goodbye.