Wednesday, July 26, 2017



     Our beach front home was the perfect place for Ed to indulge his fondness for boats. First came the rowboat our children clambered happily in and out of, too little to understand it was more than a beach toy for their specific entertainment.
     On weekends the beach toy became transportation to our second boat, a 17-foot fiberglass skiff anchored beyond Big-Big. Here Ed and I spent many a Sunday morning, placidly reading the papers and unwittingly creating an annoying detour for the Cohasset Yacht Club’s 110 and 210 sailboat races.
   Papers read, Ed would row ashore in the beach toy and collect the youngest Malleys for a boat ride. Not always the most observant of men, he once picked up our towheaded little neighbor, Mimi Dean, carrying her across the beach, and settling her in the rowboat. She murmured nary a complaint.
    “Mr. Malley,” Esther called from the beach chair where she was keeping an eye on Vonnie and Timmy. “That is not your daughter.” The mix-up was thereupon remedied, to everyone’s satisfaction except the disappointed towhead’s.
     Like the cove’s rock formations, our four youngsters acquired distinguishing nicknames: the Big Kids and the Little Kids. With the Big Kids (Kathie and Teddy), we often went fishing, using hand lines and hooks baited with clams or periwinkles, industriously unearthed on the beach and stored in sand pails. Did we catch any fish? Not that I recall. As with a Christmas present, it was the spirit, not the fish, that mattered.
     The Little Kids, Vonnie and Timmy, were treated to a trip out to Minot’s Light, their father circling around it while they gazed with round eyes at the longest ladder they had ever seen. When they became bigger kids, they liked nothing better than a rowboat ride to Brush Island, situated a few hundred yards northeast of Sandy Cove. Once, on the way back to the cove, Timmy insisted on dragging a line with a bare hook. Then he insisted he had caught a fish. We laughed indulgently until he pulled the line aboard, its hook attached to the backbone of the fish he had indeed caught.  His parents were impressed, his sister jealous, and Timmy won the first of the arguments he would have throughout the years with his parents, grandparents, teachers, school principals, and friends. 
     Our next boat was a 32-foot cabin cruiser. It was built in 1949 in Ed’s small manufacturing plant (located on the third floor of his father’s trucking garage) by several of his craftsmen in their spare time and a half. There was nothing wrong with her structure except for one teensy flaw that caused her to sink the following season.
      It was lovely mid-September weather, but a bit choppy, the day our cruiser began taking in water a mile and a half northeast of the Boston Lightship. My friend Marion Marsh and I were chatting over our beer and sandwiches when we noticed that Wes was diligently operating the hand pump while Ed was rushing around examining sea cocks, toilet fittings, and sink drains. (Later we learned there was a faulty fitting in the exhaust line.)
     “Must be a leak somewhere,” said Marion.
     “Looks like it. How about another beer?” I said.
     I went below and found myself in water up to my ankles. “Hey, Ed,” I called. “There’s a lot of water down here!”
     “I know it,” Ed called back. “We’re sinking. If we had the tender, I’d row to the Lightship for help.”
     Marion and I went topside and vainly jumped up and down, waving our jackets and shouting at the Lightship. Ed handed us horns and flares. We set off the flares and blew on the horns until we were purple. Ed and Wes tied several kapok pillows together and took off all the hatches, lashing them into a makeshift raft. Then we huddled together on the flying bridge, awaiting our fate.
     We sighted a sail leisurely dipping along the horizon. It looked for a while as if its skipper was going to continue on without seeing our predicament and we were feeling pretty glum. Then suddenly, it came about and headed directly toward us. The nearer it drew, the stiffer became our upper lips. Soon we were cracking jokes and being very British about the whole thing.  Our rescuer, it turned out, was George Crocker on the Tango.
     “Nice to see you, George,” Ed said—the greatest understatement since Henry M. Stanley’s “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”
     Marion, Wes, and I swam to the Tango, and George helped us aboard. Ed remained on board, sadly surveying the scene. For a moment I had the impression he had decided to go down with his ship. He chose instead to help the harbormaster tow our partially submerged boat to a beach near the yacht club. With the assistance of his insurance company, she was eventually restored to her former almost seaworthy condition.



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