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Sunday, July 23, 2017

ED WAVED HIS ARMS IN A DEMENTED MORSE CODE (9)

Saturday, July 5, 1958, Onset
     Our observer in the Predicted Log Race was Martin Lindenberg.  Not knowing our cruising speed, Alden had estimated it at eleven knots and submitted our Predicted Log on that basis.  As our usual cruising speed is 9.84 knots, we had a problem.  Perhaps, though, if we got rid of as much weight as possible and then really hiked along, we could maintain an average speed of eleven knots and have a chance to make a fairly creditable showing.  Our clock and speedometer were covered with tape, and at 10:30 we left the starting point.  If we finished the race near 12:30, we could expect that our calculations might be pretty accurate.

     Florence and I stayed below and chatted with Mrs. Lindenberg (“Berry”). She told us she and her husband had been observers twice before, and both times the Captains had taken first place.
     Up on the flying bridge, Alden began to get uneasy as we went dashing past boat after boat. Perhaps we were going faster than the eleven knots estimated?  By the time the skippers were convinced that we had indeed misjudeged our speed, it was too late to slow down. The final results are judged by your accuracy on each leg of the trip, not the trip as a whole.  We passed the finishing point at 12:27, seven minutes early.
     Ed and I went ashore to buy groceries.  On the way back, Ed stopped at the Yacht Club and mingled with other skippers and their observers long enough to decide that most of them knew even less about this Predicted Log business than he and Alden.  He relayed this news to Alden, saying, “Honestly, Alden, those guys don’t know what they’re doing, I wouldn’t be surprised if we made out darn well!”
     After a brief nap and a shower, Ed and I joined the Pinkhams aboard Seabird II for a couple of drinks before the clambake, which was to start at 4:30.  I'd rather arrive early at my own funeral than late for a clambake, but at 4:30, Florence and I were having typical wifely difficulties in prodding our husbands in the  direction of food.  Alden blew for the launch, which showed up so promptly (the Pinkhams had been bribing young Dave with gifts of chocolate cake and money) that the boys said, “Pick us up on the next trip.”
     Then the Swansons arrived in their sailboat, having just finished the race, so there was more confusion and further delay.  When we finally got ashore, all the benches were filled, but we could see the caterers setting up another table.  Ed and Alden excused themselves, promising to be right with us.  Florence and I hurried over to save plates for them.  This wasn’t easy, as there were a few other stragglers who kept asking if these seats were taken, and as time went by with no sign of our men, I became perturbed.  “Florence, you’d better see if you can find them.   Look in the bar first.”
     Florence was gone quite awhile.  The longer she was gone, the more clearly I could see her sitting in the bar, hoisting a few with Eddie and Alden, Mata Hari Pinkham, a traitor to her sex.  But then she appeared and said, “They’re just coming in on the launch, they must have gone back to the boat for something.”
     The Something was Ed’s clambake tickets.
     The clams and the lobster were wonderful.  Even the hot dogs, the sausages, the corn, and the boiled onions were wonderful.  Even the boiled potatoes and the watermelon. Then we had clams and more clams and I wished we had room for more clams.  Ken and Grace Swanson had arrived in time to help us with our tummy-stretching exercises, and it was unanimously agreed that Ken was the champion.  You couldn’t even see him behind the pile of shells.
     After the feast came the long-awaited announcement of the winners of the Predicted Log Race.  Having inspected the splendid prizes, Ed wished he’d taken more time with Alden in preparing for the race. There seemed to be more prizes than there were contestants, but naturally the top winners would make off with  fabulous items like a fathometer, compasses, binoculars, barometers, etc.
     The Captain who took first place had a percentage error of 1.3. Our error was 6 point something, so we took fiftieth place.  Ed has never been fiftieth in any competition in his life, and I could see by the determined glint in his eye that he never would be again.
       However, we cheered and clapped when Alden and Florence went over to pick out a prize.  The forty-nine ahead of us had snapped up everything of value, so Florence selected a boat cushion was as delighted with it as if it were a complete set of furniture.
Sunday, July 6, 1958, Onset to Cohasset
     Overcast, cool this morning.  Left for Cohasset about 10:30. Ed asked me to take over for a while when we were going through the Canal.  As we overtook other boats going in the same direction he kept saying, “Keep over, keep over, give them plenty of room!”
     “Suppose I meet a boat coming the other way?” I asked, pulling over to the middle of the canal, as ordered.
     “You can worry about that when the time comes.”
     There was a big boat ahead of us and we began to overtake it rapidly.  Ed was up front getting the steady sail ready in case the weather was chunky in Cape Cod Bay.  Suddenly he began waving his arms wildly in a kind of demented Morse Code, the message being, “Get the hell over to the right, idiot-girl!”  The boat in front of us was coming toward us; what I thought was wake was a bow-wave, caused by the big tanker’s heavy cargo.  Ed rushed to the topside controls, while down below I relinquished the wheel and slunk to my chair, and covered my face with a magazine.  People were looking at me from the other boats.
     About an hour after we left the Canal, Ed noticed one of the engines was skipping and went below to investigate.  I was topside, reading my magazine, when I became aware of the acrid odor of something burning.  “What’s burning?” I yelled.  No answer.  I peered over the side and saw smoke pouring from the deckhouse window. 
     Scrambling down the ladder I found the deck-house so full of smoke that I could barely see Ed groping his way around.   He said he was all right, but something was wrong with the port engine, he didn’t know what.  “Go on up and follow Alden,” he said.  After I went up I remembered the camera and came down again with the idea of taking a few movies.  “What’s wrong?” Ed demanded, as I looked for the camera. 
    “I want to take some movies.  Where’s the camera?”
     “To hell with the Goddamn camera!” he said.  But he spotted it on the bulkhead and thrust it at me and I hastily took a few feet of the smoke billowing through the doorway.  After that I got the boat back on course but had a hard time keeping it there because the sea was pushing and hauling us in every direction except the one we wanted to go.
     Ed eventually joined me, disgusted and discouraged.  “A thousand dollars worth of damage,” he said bitterly.  “That’s the end of the damn boating!”
     I didn’t believe that for a minute.
     As we approached Minot’s, Ed turned the wheel over to me and went forward to fold up the steady sail.  Packing it neatly into its canvas bag, he started back and dropped it overboard.
     “Shall we turn around and pick it up?” I called.
     “Yes, yes!” he snapped.  “This isn’t my day!”
     To top it off, there was a skiff on our mooring.  “To hell with it,” said Ed. “I’ll leave it at the dock.”
      Tied up at dock at 3:00 p.m.  Vonnie was there to greet us, having seen us passing Minot’s from the house.
Sunday, July 13, 1958, Cohasset
     The cause of last week’s engine trouble: we had split a hose, the water ran out, and the resultant heat cracked the manifold.  Ed wouldn’t consider taking Vonnie and Tim on their cruise with only one engine, so they will have to wait until week after next. (The Barnards are going to sea with us next Friday.)
     Ed would consider taking a one-engined, lop-sided sail just for the afternoon, though, and Kathie and her friend Ellie Gale came along.  Timmy wanted to know if he could come, too.  Ed said it’s up to Kathie, and Kathie said no, he was too much of a pest last time.  Timmy, a pest?
     It took us awhile to get going because at the last minute Ed decided to fix the lawn-mower.  Then Ted’s outboard showed a reluctance to perform--Bob James yelled from the Yacht Club porch that it wouldn’t work for anyone who wasn’t wearing a skin-diving outfit--and then when we finally climbed aboard Ed remembered he’d left the keys at home. 
     Mother and daughter sunbathed while we waited for the captain to fetch the keys.  Our departure was further delayed when Ed discovered gas was dripping out of the open fitting on the fuel pump (which had been removed while repairs to the damaged engine were made).  Fortunately he made this discovery before starting up the engine or we might have been a belated 4th of July exhibition. 
     Saw Ray, arriving with the Witch-Way.  Were amused to note that he was hobbling in on one engine.  Jim Gracie will be in great demand the next few days.

Friday, July 18, 1958, Cohasset to Onset
     “It seems to me,” Con-Con muttered with an anxious frown, “that we are not nearly as Okie-ish as usual.  What have we forgotten?  I am absolutely gnawed with question marks.”  Jack was staggering along the float looking as if he were an over-burdened camel and Con’s remark was the last straw.  One important thing she remembered not to forget this year was her camera.
     We were under way by around 5:20 p.m.  It was a beautiful balmy evening and we were anticipating a beautiful weekend with the balmy Barnards.  Arrived at Onset 9:45, held up by the tide in the Canal, which is always racing pell-mell in the direction we are not.  While we were picking up someone’s mooring, Connie suddenly squeaked that there was something flying back and forth over that “Charles Adamsish house on the island.”  Sure enough, a ghostly apparition was sweeping periodically over the bleak gables and chimneys, but it was only a searchlight, Con, so stop quivering.
      After the first cocktail the men were inspired to take a dip.  Jack took the plunge first and sadistically refrained from warning Ed that the water was freezing.  The dips were not prolonged.
     Had cold roast beef, potato salad, hot rolls and peas for dinner. Played bridge until 1:45, at which time the boys’ phenomenal luck began to run out, and the girls’ skill began to assert itself.  We are going to keep a running score and settle once and for all this matter of which team is superior
     Connie made a brilliant contribution to the boat--jaunty little nautical clip-on shades for our light fixtures.  
Saturday, July 19, 1958, Onset
     Awakened early this morning by nasty little raindrops pelting through the portholes onto our bunks.  Had that wet-blanket feeling, closed ports, went back to sleep until 9:00.  Heard Barnards stirring, asked them if they cared to join us in a before-breakfast swim in the rain, answer affirmative.
     “If I can get into these wet trunks I can do anything,” Jack said clammily.  We noticed a man standing outside the Charles Adams house, doing something with shovel.  Digging a grave, Ed figured.
     After our swim, Con and I prepared an especially fine breakfast featuring fillets cut from the 39-pound striped bass Ted latched onto while skin-diving yesterday.  Con’s Sara Lee coffee cake was also yummy.
     Rainy and windy, but toward 11:00 the weather looked more promising, so we cast off and headed for Buzzards Bay--destination the Vineyard. Soon we were lurching about, and our small world was literally crashing down on our heads.  A big rod and reel sideswiped Connie, and when a second one hurtlied in her direction, the clever girl changed her seat.  Then the worst happened, as Alden would say.  The Beaujolais toppled out of the icebox, spilled all over the galley and Lloyd’s Register of American Yachts, which toppled from the bulkhead at the same time. 
     Jack went below to swab the decks, but when Connie saw his ruddy cheeks becoming apple green, she volunteered to relieve him. “Let me do it,” I said, grabbing the sponge with one hand and clutching the wall for support with the other.  I clutched the wrong wall because the door to the main cabin slammed, and there were my fingers, neatly trapped in the hinge.  I said “Owwwwwwwww and Ooooooooo” and Ed said, “That does it.”  We turned around and high-tailed it back to Onset.  Jack said if I wrote in the Log that our retreat had anything to do with the color of his face, he would tear the record to pieces and throw it overboard.  So I won’t say it.    
     We took the launch ashore.  As we stepped off, we noticed the Law heading for the sinister house on Wicket’s Island.  Ed was convinced they were going to dig up that freshly buried body.  Exhume, you mean," said Barrister Barnard, a stickler for the right word at the right time.
     We walked into town, keeping an eye out for the White Rabbit or the Family Table, recommended as good restaurants by the launch boy.  Never did find them, hope our cab driver tonight will know his way around.  Took launch back to the Happy Days, spent a leisurely afternoon reading, drinking beer, taking naps, cursing the wind that was blowing us no good at all.
     Summoned the launch again, and Jack phoned for cab from the Yacht Club.  While waiting, we were aghast to see the Monster of Wicket’s Island building a roaring fire in his backyard crematorium.  Obviously, Ed said morbidly, the cops had been taken care of.
     The cab driver recommended the Family Table as being the better of the afore- mentioned restaurants, declaring that the White Rabbit served only chicken wings.  While chicken wings sounded almost too tempting to resist, we didn’t want to hurt the man’s feelings, and off we went to the Family Table.
     There were two dining rooms, both of which had empty tables, but the hostess took one look at us and ushered us to the furthermost corner of the furthermost dining room.  We think it had something to do with our men, who were resplendently over dressed in their Madras jackets.  I now knew what it meant to be the “cynosure of all eyes."  Connie haughtily returned stare for stare and Ed announced that he couldn’t care less.  Jack just looked embarrassed.  However, the vittles were good and the waitress pleasant, in spite of having to serve such outlandish characters.
     Started playing bridge around 10:45, finally knocked off five hours later.  Subtracting the plus 8 the boys had last night, Con and I ended up with a total of plus45.  I’ll have to acknowledge we had good cards, and to give the devils their due, they were good-sport losers.
Sunday, July 20, 1958, Cohasset to Provincetown
     Must have been around 9:30 when we bestirred ourselves--except for Con-Con, who remained tucked in her cocoon when I marched through, giving me the distinct impression that bestirring herself was the furthest thing from her mind.  Not until the boys had departed for the Sunday papers and I had started the Symphony of the Pots and Pans from Malleys’ Galley did the slothful creature uncurl herself and emerge from her bunk.  Knowing her conscience nust be troubling her, I allowed her to take charge of the bacon and eggs while I tended to the burning of the toast.  Con had told Jack he needn’t bother to return if he didn’t bring back the Times and the Tribune, to which the man replied, “Best offer I’ve had in weeks.” But it turned out he was only joshing because he did return after all, bearing the paper store’s last copy of the Times. Con went to work on her beloved crossword puzzle, Ed took one look at the threatening Kruschchev headlines and escaped into the comic section, muttering that we would soon all be dead.
     It was still very windy.  Ed brought the Happy Days into the dock, gassed up, got some ice.  Frittered away most of the afternoon not doing much of anything, wondering whether we should brave the gale and go somewhere or remain stuck in Onset.  At 4:00 Ed and Jack reached a decision: We would try to make Provincetown, and if it proved too rough, we would slip into Plymouth instead.
     We made PT all right, but we had to endure an hour of very rough weather.  At least Ed claimed it was only an hour.  Jack, who threw up his lunch and his Dramamine, and I who kept weighing the pros and cons of doing the same, agreed that it was more like six hours.
     The boys had bought boneless sirloins last night in Onset for our dinner tonight.  Ed and I were both positive that there was charcoal somewhere aboard, but he was wrong.  Jack decided to go ashore and purchase some.
     “I tried several stores, didn’t have it or not open.  Finally tried the Lobster Pot where Louise {blowzy Louise) put me in touch with Felix (the proprietor), who put me in touch with Ralph.  Who Ralph was I didn’t know.  He just seemed to be hanging around.  Ralph and I talked and then Ralph made several telephone calls.  Finally he got one Walter Harding of Pleasant Street, out toward the airport.  Walter was going to take his family on a picnic the next day and had a bag of charcoal in the rear deck of his car. So I got a cab and went to the house of Walter, who was sore because he worked nights and Ralph had waked him up.  That’s it, and here I am.”
     After dinner Con and I ventured the opinion that it was too late to go ashore and besides we wanted to play more of that lovely game known as bridge.  Our opinion seems to carry a lot of weight (especially when it is joint), so we played and won two rubbers.          
Monday, July 21, 1958, Provincetown to Cohasset
      Ed asked me if I was going to take a swim this morning. I said no.  Jack and Con were already in bathing suits and Jack was emerging from the water.  “How is it?” I asked. “A bit cool,” he allowed.  From this stoic it meant that it was barely above freezing.  Con dipped one toe in and said firmly, “I’m not going to do it.” Ed put his trunks on and after testing the water in the same manner, came to the identical conclusion.  “You’re a quitter,” Jack told Connie.
      “That’s it,” she said.  “Ed and I are forming a club, the Quitters’ Club.  Barbara can’t join because she’s a not-even-starter.”
      Beautiful warm morning.  Took skiff ashore, had breakfast at Chef’s Restaurant, looked in shop windows.  Spent quite a bit of time but no money in Mr. Kenneth’s Hat Shop.  Con and I had fun trying on one zany creation after another, but I don’t think we endeared ourselves to the proprietor when we left empty headed.
     Cruised out to Stellwagon Ledge, saw some big porpoises, which we later concluded were baby whales.  Later we came upon a group of Mama and Papa whales.  One fellow cooperatively meandered along beside the boat, just under the surface of the water, exhibiting himself and his beautiful 40-foot body long enough for us to take what we hope will be excellent close-ups on film. Connie finally got so excited at the proximity of these great mammals that she uttered a shriek, terrifying every whale within miles.  They all beat it and Ed would have beat Connie, only he’s afraid of her, too.
     Arrived Cohasset shortly after 6:00

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