Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Adventures on the High Seas!

When I was in school, my dad would always take Columbus Day off and we would motor his sailboat up the river to see the leaves changing. I have such fond memories of those trips that I want to be able to share those experiences with my girls. We were worried about rain for Columbus Day this year, so my father and stepmother took my girls and I out this past Sunday for our “Up the River” cruise.

I started out the afternoon by telling my older daughter about Columbus and how he was an explorer who set off sailing the ships the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria in an effort to prove that the world was round (like her globe) and not flat like people used to think it was. I told her that we were going to go out on the sailboat and go up the river (where she has never been), to have an adventure and discover “new land!”

It was a beautiful early fall day, and what an adventure we had! The water in the river and lake are particularly low this year (we had a very dry summer!) so just trying to get out of the slip was an adventure in itself! Finally away from the dock, my dad decided it was a good idea to take the opportunity to take the mast down (while he was “unstuck” from the slip!) so instead of going up the river, we motored out to the lake and back while he worked on getting the mast ready. We tied off in the work slip and my dad and stepmother worked on taking the mast down, while I entertained my girls down below in the cabin (where I was certain no one would be inadvertently knocked out by the mast!).

This was easier said than done… When we had been out in the cockpit of the boat, my girls were easily entertained by watching the other boats, people, sea gulls, enjoying the breeze, and my 6 year old who took sailing lessons last summer has her sea legs and enjoyed wandering back and forth from bow to stern. Down in the cabin, with limited toys from the diaper bag, my toddler got bored quickly, and my older daughter’s idea of fun was opening and closing the door between the main cabin and the v-berth (“bedroom”). Out of desperation, I handed my toddler her container of Cheerios and told her it was a maraca. I handed 2 plastic blocks to my 6 year old and told her they were castanets, and I “played” the half-filled water bottle. I was amazed that those make-shift instruments entertained my girls for at least 30 minutes – the entire time it took my dad and stepmother to finish taking the mast down! It’s funny how simple it can be to entertain children – sometimes it just takes a little imagination and your undivided attention to make them happy!

Once the mast was down, we headed back up and decided that now that we were a “motor boat” and weren’t at the mercy of the bridge’s schedule, we’d head up the river quickly just to say that we had done it. My girl loved having us all yell and listen to the echo under the bridge! We didn’t get far before we came across a powerboat in distress – they had lost their power steering and had a man on the bow, trying to row with one paddle to steer them back to the boat launch. Never one to leave a fellow boater in trouble, my father offered to help them out and so we rafted them up to us and we were able to guide them back to where they needed to be. This was another fun adventure for my girl, and gave her more of an audience to entertain along the way. And it was also a nice lesson to teach her about helping those in need.

All in all, it wasn’t exactly the trip that we had planned, but we had a great time and hey, you just can’t plan for an adventure! Regardless, it will be a fun memory for my girl, for sure!

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