Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Willy Wispe: Children's Log #2, 1966

I'll never forget this particular summer vacation – or at least one specific moment of this trip on the ocean. I may have already mentioned that my mother feared the water. I didn't know this when I was little, and only found out when my parents moved to Martha's Vineyard, my dad bought yet another sailboat, and she refused to go out with him. My mother loved her garden and the solid earth she found underfoot. She was terrified when she was out on the water, and once said that it was all she could do to stay calm when walking on a dock with water on both sides. Who knew? (Probably my father.)

So, imagine being on a sailboat with a rather inexperienced sailor (my father learned how to sail when he was 35 – on this boat!), with three young children, and you're the only other adult who helps with the sheets, sails, and tiller, docking and un-docking, does all the cooking and cleaning (including vomit),  and, oh yeah, keeps her kids from falling overboard – all the while hating the water.

My grandparents were with us on this trip – my father's Norwegian parents. I don't think my grandparent's were with us this whole trip, but I'm guessing they were with us on August 12 and 13. Weather was always the biggest consideration when deciding to set out to sea each day, yet my father would often leave port on a crappy looking day – eternally the optimist – telling us "if it's bad, we'll head back." I think sometimes he thought it might be better out in the open ocean than it was in port, with the boat slamming up against the dock.

All I can remember from those days in August is the waves – the big rollers that were so high that when you were at the bottom of the wave you saw no sky, just water on all sides. They were easily six to eight foot high rollers. I clearly recall my dad trying his best to keep the boat in control while our family sat in the cockpit, too nervous to talk.

My grandparents were sitting across from me, and my mother next to me, her arm extended over my body, as mothers do when they brake suddenly in a car. The terrified look on my grandmother's face caused me to explode in uncontrollable laughter. I couldn't stop, and the more my grandmother told me to shut up or gasped in Norwegian, as she was known to do, made me laugh even harder. 

Looking back, I'm sure it was a nervous laughter, but maybe a little bit of me was trying to show my grandparents that it wasn't as bad as they thought; dad really did have it under control. Who knows. It was frightening at that moment, for sure, but it still makes me laugh to think about it.

The only other time I remember my grandparents joining us on Willy Wispe was years later on Lake Michigan or Huron. My mother was trying to help my grandmother out of the dinghy and onto the boat when she inadvertently pulled my grandmother's arm out of her socket. Nice one, mom!

This more formatted log of 1966-67 is an effort my mother made to make it easier for us to comment in the log. I love how it starts out so complete, and tidy, with excellent handwriting.

Trip with Grandma and Grandpa Ambrose

August 8, 1966
New Bedford to Wood's Hole
Departed: 9:30 AM  Arrived: 12:00 noon
Every thing fine. Made a good speed crossing Buzzard's Bay. Everybody had something to do, either on deck or down below.
What I liked best–Bobby: The voyage across Buzzard's Bay and rowing
What I liked best–Billy: Rowing the dinghy and fishing
What I liked best–Sarah: When I was being rowwed around by Billy and Bobby

August 9, 1966
Wood's Hole to Martha's Vineyard
Departed: 11:00 AM  Arrived: 1:15 PM
Had a late start. Sailed to Martha's Vineyard. Moured, then rowed to a dock and explrored town.
What I liked best–Bobby: The sail to Martha's Vineyard
What I liked best–Billy: Rowing the dinghy and sailings
What I liked best–Sarah: I liked walking back from the beach

August 10, 1966
Stayed in Vineyard Haven.
Bad day for sailing but good day to fish. Grampa caught two Sand Sharks, a six other fish were caught by the others.
What I liked best–Bobby: Fishing and rowing
What I liked best–Billy: Rowing around and fishing
What I liked best–Sarah: Fishing - sand sharks

August 11, 1966
Vineyard Haven to Menemsha
Departed: 9:00 AM  Arrived: 12:15 PM
Heavey fog. Motered to Menemsha, a small fishing village.
What I liked best–Bobby: Motoring to Menemsha
What I liked best–Billy: I liked when I was fishing and when the big waves came
What I liked best–Sarah: The Ferry came and made big waves

August 12, 1966
Menemsha to Quick's Hole
Departed: 11:00 AM  Arrived: 1:00 PM
Had a late start. Big rollers and dripping alchohal made Billy sick.
What I liked best–Bobby: Arriving at Quick's Hole
What I liked best–Billy: Arriving at Quick's Hole
What I liked best–Sarah: The first time the sun came out

August 13, 1966
Quick's Hole to Sakonnet
Departed: 11:00 AM  Arrived: 7:00 PM
Rough day, every body dead tired.
What I liked best–Bobby: Arriving at Sakonet
What I liked best–Billy: Arriving at Cuteunk
What I liked best–Sarah: I liked heeling over

August 14, 1966
Sakonnet to Bristol
Went up Narragansett Bay – beautiful all the way.
What I liked best–Bobby: The voyage to Bristol
What I liked best–Billy: The voyage down the river
What I liked best–Sarah: I liked when the cards fell on the floor

August 15, 1966
Stayed in Bristol visiting Shaws
What I liked best–Bobby: Getting a shower
What I liked best–Sarah: I liked seeing Marilyn (Shaw)

August 16, 1966
Bristol to Dutch Island Harbor
Rain & Fog
What I liked best–Bobby: Getting into Dutch Island Harbor
What I liked best–Sarah: Billy caught a sand shark

August 17, 1966
Dutch Island Harbor to Block Island
Good trip.
What I liked best–Bobby: Catching fish
What I liked best–Sarah: We caught some crabs and flounders

August 18, 1966
Block Island to Hamburg Cove
What I liked best–Bobby: Swimming
What I liked best–Sarah: I like swimming

August 19, 1966
Hamburg Cove to Branford
All got food poisoning.

Original painting of Hamburg Cove © 2007, by Leif Nilsson, Leif Nilsson Spring Street Gallery
August 20, 1966
Branford to Stamford to Home
Ed and Bob do it alone, motor and sail
What I liked best–Sarah: Bobby and Daddy sailed and motored home by themselves
Willy Wispe was moored at the Stamford Yacht Club on Shippan Point when we lived in Connecticut. The Stamford History Society has a great website, and that's where I found this photo.

August 20, PM, 1966
What I liked best–Sarah: Geting home

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