Dad and I were about to get in the pickup to head to the Fog Island Lobster Trap Company. We needed some new traps to replace the ones we lost last week—Dad says he’s sure a dragger made a pass through our gear.
I opened the door and took a look out beyond the dock to the cove entrance.
Dad saw what I saw at the same time.
Dad (squinting in the sunshine): Who’s that coming in?
A small sailboat rounded the sand spit and cut across the smooth water toward our dock.
I squinted, too, and made out the boat.
Me: Looks like one of those catboats from the sailing camp.
Just seeing that kind of boat made my heart skip as if it did a quick couple of dance steps. It was the exact kind I’d sailed in with Briggs.
From down on the water, I heard a voice call “Ahoy! Ahoy there!”
Me (grinning): That can’t be anybody but Briggs himself.
It was Briggs.
He raised his arm and waved it back and forth.
“Ahoy, Eddie!” he called. “Ahoy, Mr. Atwell!”
Thinking of Briggs makes me smile, and seeing him in the same kind of boat when he was becalmed off Greenhead Island last year made me laugh out loud.
Dad and I headed down to the dock.
Briggs was crossing the cove at a good clip, grinning and waving, looking like he had learned a lot about boat handling.
But he was coming in hot.
Me (calling across the water to him): Hey, Briggs. Looking good. You might want to think about slowing her down, though.
Briggs: My sentiments exactly, Eddie. My docking prowess, I daresay, is still a work in progress.
I glanced at Dad. His smile was fading.
Dad: Briggs, you better turn. Turn the boat.
Briggs: Indeed I will.
But he seemed to freeze.
Then he pushed the tiller hard and the bow swung away but the hull hit the boards with a scraping screech. I lunged to push the rail to keep the boat off the dock.
Dad grabbed the forestay as the bow came into the wind and the sail flapped. The boom swung toward me and I had to duck.
Briggs: Not the most graceful of landings, I should say, but effective nonetheless, especially with capable mariners to lend a hand. Thank you both for your assistance.
Dad: Anytime. Scrape’s not too pretty on that pretty boat, though.
Briggs: Hazards of the sea, I suppose. Besides, now that I no longer wallow in abject fear when I take a boat out, I’m more liable to return to port bearing the emblems of my adventures—namely scrapes for the boat and bruises for myself.
Dad and I looked at each other. Dad raised his eyebrows.
Briggs: But perhaps you’re wondering why I would make this unexpected visit. I am here on a whim, in fact, to see if Eddie might have the inclination to take a sail with me. My sailing skills have greatly benefited from this summer’s stint at Saggy Neck Sailing Camp, and I believe that Eddie would be quite proud of my progress.
Dad opened his mouth to say something but stopped.
Briggs (pushing his glasses up with his forefinger): My docking skills notwithstanding, of course.
Me: That’s great, Briggs, but I guess I can’t. Work, you know. Sorry.
I gestured toward the truck.
Dad: Maybe this is a good time to go have yourself a little fun. I haven’t given you any time off in I don’t know how long.
Me: Really? What about the traps?
Dad: I can manage. Boys at the yard can give me a hand.
Me: Okay. If you don’t mind.
Dad: Just don’t go looking for any trouble to get into, okay?
Briggs (laughing): Don’t worry about that, Mr. Atwell.
I climbed over the rail and sat down in the cockpit on the other side of the tiller.
Dad: Okay. Ready to shove off?
Briggs gave him the thumb’s-up.
Dad set his foot on the bow rail and pushed the boat off the dock.
The bow fell away and Briggs brought the tiller toward him and pulled in the sheet. The sail belled out in the wind and the boat pushed ahead.
We slipped across the cove toward the open water.
I draped my arm along the rail and looked back at Dad on the dock. He waved. We both waved back.
Briggs: I must say, Eddie, that I was hoping to surprise you. I surprised myself, to be honest. I was out for a sail, potentially my last one for the season since camp is closing next week, and I knew I wanted to take you for a sail—one during which we would have no buccaneers in hot pursuit. You were instrumental in my finding a measure of confidence, and a leisurely sail was the least that I owed you.
I had to admit he looked a lot more confident steering the boat. We skimmed right along, heeling in the breeze, and he didn’t have that frightened rabbit look he used to get when the boat tipped even a little.
Me: I’m glad you did, Briggs. So where to? How about Greenhead? Sound okay?