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About Our First Boat
A Morgan 24 – Points Unknown
Erin at the Helm
~ Erin at the Helm ~
Points Unknown Icon
Watercolored Memories with Family
A Little Blue Boat for a Little Girl
Floating around somewhere is a rather portentous picture of me at the age of four or five. I'm wearing a nautical styled swimsuit with a red and white striped top, and a navy blue bottom adorned with gold anchor buttons. We were celebrating my birthday on that warm, July day by having a picnic at Portage Lakes, and the photo captures me happily sitting in my very first boat, a little blue skiff made of molded plastic. My parents could not have imagined the impact that present would ultimately make on me!

Though my toddler sized tub was full of gifts, what was under all that colorful wrapping and ribbons has long been forgotten. But my ship, and the fun it forged left an indelible impression. One particularly vivid escapade emulated the then sweeping fad of stuffing as many people as possible into phone booths and VW bugs; a craze that coaxed my four lanky cousins to spend a riotous day at the reservoir cramming all six of us kids into my little boat's 12 cubic feet of space while trying to keep it from capsizing.

Many of my most cherished childhood memories are of time spent surrounded by water. My grandparents owned property on Lake Milton where we spent much of the summertime bobbing in rubbery black inner tubes on top of the cool, sun dappled water. At dusk we fished off the dock for glistening bluegills, golden perch, and leathery whiskered catfish. There was water skiing behind the bigger motor boat that'd been christened 'New Dew' after my sister's and my initials. I remember listening to the rippling against the hull as we sat at anchor watching July 4th fireworks bursting through the night sky.

Various other bodies of water seep into my youthful memories as well. I fondly recall the tranquility of canoeing down slow, lazy tributaries meandering through shady forests. And the thrill of straddling bouncy blow-up rafts racing down rushing rapids. And the unfettered fun of plunging into boisterous swimming holes enhanced with high dives, rope swings, and flumes.

My adolescence was drenched in pools and ponds, quarries and reservoirs, waterfalls and rivers, lakes and streams. Suffice it to say that my love of all things aquatic runs deep. If I could dive into it, paddle through it, float on it, fish from it, skim across it, dunk under it, slide down it, splash about in it, or even muse beside it – I was happy indeed! And I still am.

In the Same Boat
Don and I wanted to share similar experiences with our little ones, Erin and Camryn, in the hopes that they might attain the same love that we felt of being by, on, and in the water. We hoped Points Unknown would be the inception for that affection; the springboard that'd show them the adventures, joys, thrills, bonds, skills, courage, and confidence that a sailing vessel engenders. We were, after all, going to be growing up in the same boat as it were.

Little did we know that Points Unknown would also engage our other family members as well. We scarcely imagined how enthusiastic they'd be to spend a day sitting in a boat, or how eager they were to be shown how to set a sail. Out of the blue, we became the center of a lot of great family memories created out on the blue.

Canada Geese Family
~ Canada Geese Family ~
Erin Noodling Around the Pool
~ Erin Noodling Around the Pool ~
Duck, Duck, Goose
After just a few jaunts to the harbor, we were delighted to discover that the girls were as desirous as we were to spend time on the boat each weekend. Though June poured in with spring's showers, we managed to duck the rain drops onboard and extend our dry space out into the cockpit with a big blue tarp draped over the boomThe horizontal spar or pole that extends from the base of the mast and runs aft. and secured to the lifelines. Cozy and dry under our tent, listening to the patter while we played games, it felt like we were camping on top of the lake!

The inclement weather didn't stop the Canada geese from showing off their gaggles of goslings. Our own personal parade of adorable little waders would paddle by, stopping for cracker crumbs off the sternBack of a boat. of any occupied boat. The little peepers were incomparable in their "aaawwww" factor.

But the moment the sun poked through, we stepped out to get wet intentionally! The marina's pool proved to be a diversion that delighted us all. It was a great way to discharge all that adolescent energy and work on the girls swimming skills. The little tadpoles were always ready to zonk out just about the time more rain clouds blew us back to our tepee on the sea.

Dad's Day by the Bay
We invited our family to join us for a Father's Day barbeque by the bay, half expecting that the long drive to Sandusky would dissuade most of them from accepting. But everyone wanted a peek at our sailing dreams, and deemed that a sunny Sunday spent lakeside was worth the trip. It was to be one of the few times that all our relatives; parents, children, siblings, nieces, nephews, spouses and significant others from both Don and my side would come together for a day of celebration. We ended up filling the pavilion and the pool with our party!

No one balked at the long walk up the dock to appraise Points Unknown. Tours, however, could only occur one by one. Erin and Camry were so proud to guide everyone through the various creature comforts on their boat. We were honored to receive quite a few requests to go for a sailing junket sometime, but everyone knew that today was for grilling together.

Blowing Bubbles with Grandma
~ Blowing Bubbles with Grandma ~
Firsts on the Forth
Don's mom secured her sailing date for Independence Day, a holiday greatly amplified when on the water. It was a brand new experience for Linda, and having her extra hands onboard seemed like a good chance to take our two little tykes out for their maiden voyage too.

Don and I were still quite anxious over the whole affair nonetheless. Linda was our first passenger after all, and we wanted to make a good impression — prove that we weren't a ship of fools. Keeping small children safe and satisfied on dry land could be stressful enough. Doing it in a 24 foot sailboat threatened to really push the pulse up precariously!

We cast off from the dock and motored out of the marina without incident. A rare, wonderful breeze was blowing over the lake and before long we were flitting about under full sail. Linda raved over how well we handled the boat, oblivious to our rankled nerves. She made terrific crew, and even pitched in when we came aboutA maneuver by which a sailing vessel turns its bow through the wind so that the direction from which it blows changes from one side to the other.. Her easy laugh and effusive delight quickly popped all our worries and prompted us to relaxed and enjoy the moment.

Turns out we needn't have been so apprehensive about the munchkins either. Soon after the bubbles ceased to entertain, the gentle rocking and warm sun lulled them both sound sleep. Now we had two ways to dodge the naptime disputes!

Fire & Rescue Geyser
~ Fire & Rescue Geyser ~
Custom Colvin Schooner Journey
~ Custom Colvin Schooner Journey ~
Twilight's Last Gleaming
As evening fell, we settled in for the culmination of the July 4th celebration – quadrupled from our vantage point. Bobbing quietly in our slip, the fireworks displays of Port Clinton, Sandusky, Cedar Point, and Kelly's Island filled every corner of the night sky. The sparkling bursts of color reflected on the lake further multiplied the awe of the spectacle.

It immediately took me back to those carefree days spent in New Dew on Lake Milton on this very day so many years before. I hoped similar, watercolored memories of sitting in a little boat on a big lake during a warm summer night might bubble up for Erin and Camryn in their futures as well.

Taking a Journey
August hastened in with the HBYC's annual party, an affair that really highlighted how the marina promoted boating as a family affair. There was a fleet of wonderfully crafted radio controlled model boats on display, a great big Coast Guard cutter to tour, and fire & rescue boats pumping huge geysers off their bow.

The Journey, a beautifully maintained 65' custom steel schooner that served as a training vessel was tied up on the T at the end of a dock. We'd floated by her lovely lines many times, and were craving a close up view but never dreamed we'd get one under sail. Fortunately for us, the school was offering rides for the event! It was the perfect way to launch the day.

Dressed in full pirate garb, the crew proved to be the nicest trio of seafarers and zealously pressed all excursionist into service. Don and I helped hoist the sails, and Erin got a turn at the helm – a duty she took quite solemnly for a tot.

Out of the Mouths of Babes!
Once the broad canvas billowed and we were well underway, I kept the girls entertained by pointing out all the sights, and directed their attention to the marina now off in the distance. "See all the masts? That is where Points Unknown is."

Erin asked "Which one is our boat?" and I told her to look for the littlest mast. This made everyone within earshot chuckle.

Steering the Journey
~ Steering the Journey ~

"We're not embarrassed. We're not trying to overcompensate." I asserted.

Erin turned her head skyward, looking up at the Journey's two towering spars. Though not knowing the meaning nor implied innuendo of the word 'overcompensate', she loudly exclaimed "But these people are, aren't they?!"

Erin's guileless observation made everyone erupt with laughter!

An Eerie Event on the Lake
The celebration's theme was Halloween, my favorite holiday. There would be boat decorating and costume contests, trick-or-treating, dancing in the haunted hall, and spooky treats. The docks were brimming with boaters like we'd never seen before! Given that the sailing season would be over long before the jack-o'-lanterns were lit, we enthusiastically participated in the traditional revelry!

Don and I decked out Points Unknown in a tropical motif, with tiki head lights strung around the rails and a big blowup palm tree on the bow. But our efforts were easily outstripped by many of the other members who'd gone completely overboard! One catamaran was covered with ghouls crawling out of the hatches, ghosts hovering about the shroudsFixed cable that runs from the top of the mast to the sides of the boat in order to hold the mast up., and gravestones lining the piers. Competition was as fierce as the America's CupThe oldest international sailing match race..

The Big Kahuna and the Little Hula
~ The Big Kahuna and the Little Hula ~

It became obvious that our costumes, which complemented our decor, were winners though. While the Big Kahuna took his little hula girls begging from boat to boat, I stayed onboard to pass out candy. Once the trick-or-treaters saw me in my coconut bra, leis, and grass skirt, they'd laughingly announce "I know who belongs with you!"

The girls were adorable in their bright Hawaiian colors and floral frills. But Don, with his dark shades peering from behind his mask, looked hysterical! His belly hanging out of a spectacularly hideous aloha shirt really added to the effect. It would be the only time I ever let him break my 'No Wearing Puka Shells' rule.

A Little Blue Boat for Two Little Girls
September quietly slipped in with warm breezes for which we'd waited all summer. The shorter days and cooler nights let us know the Lake Erie boating season was nearing its end. But after spending every spare moment we had out on the water, Don and I could finally turn Points Unknown's helm over to Erin, and put Camryn on watch while we napped.


But we were finally comfortable with taking our brood out sailing on our own, and they really seemed to enjoy the experience. With Don's guidance, Erin really did like to take the helm. And Camryn did keep watch, until her two little eyes would start Wynken and Blynken and her little head would Nod.

The Ties That Bind
Only time can reveal what memories might endure for Erin and Camryn. I could only hope that some of the ties that bind a family together are found in dock lines and anchor rodes, jib sheetsRope used to trim the forward sail. and mainsheets, halyardsLine used to hoist a spar or sail. and lifelines. However, I know that Points Unknown summer was packed with thousands of terrific experiences, both great and small, that Don and I would never forget.
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“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” ~ Loren Eiseley