Opening Weekend Boat Rides

by Mark Lindsay

June 2002

What a great opening weekend! It seemed like everyone showed up. Ian, who is now seventeen and almost as tall as I am, (but uses a lot less words to say things than I do), agreed to come along with me. This was his first work weekend since roofing the Breezys in a torrential thunderstorm a couple of years ago. When we drove up just in time for the 6 o'clock boat, we saw Rick Tjader and his son Carl launching their kayaks to make the trip to the island. Nat Haynes and Sandra-Leigh and her always hard-working father, Don Sprecker, were the next volunteers we met as we waited for the Appy. By Saturday there would be 65 volunteers on the island.

When Frank Woods showed up with the boat, it immediately filled up with people, luggage and tools. At the last minute, Jack Trickey and his son Nathan drove in. Jack had flown from a morning meeting in Atlanta and made a marathon dash from the airport to home in Pelham, Mass. and then through the hordes of motorcyclists headed to Laconia to just catch us before we left. The fact that he would spend most of Saturday in meetings with everyone from a human waste treatment expert to a refrigeration technician, and do it all with a great sense of humor, is a testimony to his amazing dedication to volunteering at Three Mile.

There is something magical about the that trip out to the island. As you leave the mainland behind and pass between Pine and Bear Islands and get your first view of Three Mile with the peaks of Whiteface and Chocura beyond it on the horizon, it feels like coming home. When you see the little crowd gathered on the dock with welcoming waves, shouts and smiles, you know you really are home.

On Saturday, Ian, several other volunteers and I spent the day re-assembling Three Mile's sailboat fleet, pounding bent fittings back into shape, rigging new lines, refastening, and scrubbing the boats clean. Ian sanded and varnished the brightwork on the camp's Whitehall rowing boat, and I went ashore to buy more little boat bits at Shep's. On the ride back we were joined by the refrigeration expert, who noted the outboard we were using and asked, "Is the AMC still using two-stroke outboards? You know those four cycle engines run a lot cleaner." He keeps his boat, with a four cycle engine, on Squam Lake, which he likes because "when you're out on the water you can't see any houses. Not like the 'big lake.' " It was a real wake-up call for me. If I ever thought that the local residents are unaware of the beauty, fragility and need for preservation of the their surroundings, I learned again that I was mistaken. You can learn a lot by going out for a ride in a boat.

At the end of the day with barely an hour before the bugle call to supper, Ian and I launched the Daysailor and took it out, "to see if it works." I've spent a lifetime racing and sailing boats all over the world, and it was just wonderful to have Ian take the helm while I tended my jib sheets and let the wind and water slide by. While I was hardly paying attention, he has developed his own sense for the way a boat works that feels easy and natural. It occurs to me that sometimes one of the most useful things we can do, is simply recognize the gifts that surround us.