The two-car tango never fails to confuse me. In late November, boat-stashing time on the Chesapeake, the boss asked if I'd help him get his boat from its dock on Reed Creek to Lippincott Marine on Kent Narrows, where it would be hauled for the winter. What Dick Royer needed help with, of course, was not my razor-sharp boathandling skills or my preternaturally keen knowledge of the relevant eight miles of the Chester River. What he needed was a second car (and driver), so that we could rendezvous with both cars at the starting point, the marina, which in fact would be the boat's end point, and then take one of the cars to the boat's starting point, which would be our end point, and then take the boat to the original starting point, at which point we would take the second car back to where we started, at the end. Wait. What?
See what I mean about it being confusing? It confuses me, anyway--to the point that whenever I do it, I have to first talk through the process, start to finish, to be sure I understand all the overlapping geometry. (I wouldn't be surprised if there's a sine and a cosine in there somewhere. When I got into boating years ago, I was told there would be no math. This turned out to be untrue.)
I'm happy to report that all went well on that perfect Indian summer morning: temperatures in the 60s, water glassy calm. And best of all, before we hopped aboard the Edna Heritage, Dick's brawny, no-nonsense Bay-built deadrise, I got to see the old cottage on Reed Creek, perhaps for the last time. As some of you may recall, I used to live there. I used to write this column, then called Reed Creek Journal, in the bright sunroom of that very cottage. I used to keep my boat, good ol' Ink Pot, at that very dock. And it all still looks very much the same--except for the much larger house now sprouting from the edge of the meadow on the inland side of the cottage. Now that the Royers live there year-round and not just on summer weekends, they're replacing the cottage, orginally a simple hunting cabin, with a proper house.
So the cottage's days are numbered, and I'm so glad I had one last chance to see it, to stand in the small living room and look out to the wide creek, to the pier where so many Ink Pot adventures began and where I would sit for hours on weekends, sometimes just staring and thinking, sometimes fishing, never catching anything. At the creek's edge I could see the wire-bound riprap where herons tiptoed at dawn and where my cats prowled for snakes and rodents at dusk. Off to the right I could see one end of the reedgrass swamp where the chunkiest of the aforementioned cats, Ruby, got stuck in the mud one winter night and yowled until I rescued her by kayak. Straight ahead, several hundred yards beyond the pier, is the spot where I capsized the Hobie Cat and thought I'd have to swim it all the way back--until I realized the water was only four feet deep and I could just stand up and put the whole rig back on it's feet.
So much to remember, so little time. There would be no dawdling this day; we had a boat to deliver, and some fishing to do along the way. And of course there was still a bit of geometry to work out. That part I left to Dick, because I was told there would be no math.