Our son Jason and our grandson Carson went with us to the coast this weekend. We were pushing our luck with the weather, but it is turned out to be pretty nice for mid January. I would warn readers that this log is mostly about my grandson. If you can abide a grandpa's ramblings, please read on...
We figured one night on the boat would be enough for Carson's first time. We had no idea how he would react to the boat or the dock or anything else. It would be an understatement to say that Carson has a mind of his own. His thought processes are far more advanced than his 4 years. I called Tom at the Oriental Marina and Inn who assured me he had a place for us to stay if things didn't work out.
Saturday January 15, 2012
We picked up our extra crew at 7am. We hoped to take Carson from his bed to the car so he could continue sleeping. That didn't work as well as we had hoped because he was very excited about going to Gram and Papa's boat for the weekend. After raising two little boys ourselves, we estimate the amount of space required, at any given time, is about 5 acres per boy. This requirement is not met inside a moving car. Carson had never spent that much time in a car before, but he did very well. We had planned to stop as many times as he needed. We stopped for breakfast and lunch and a couple of other stops when it was obvious he had had enough riding. Carson commented on the long ride, and at some point during the trip down, told Gram "It will take this long to get back home." I think that is very perceptive for a 4 year old. We had hoped he would take a nap at some point, and of course he went to sleep about 10 minutes before we got there. We just continued to drive and gave Jason a quick driving tour of the town of Oriental.
We arrived at about 2 pm, not a minute too soon for Carson. The next part of the weekend could have gone either way. The first boarding would be the test. We had no idea how he would react to the boat when he actually got there. Maybe the old adage that the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree is true after all. His dad is a natural sailor. Carson climbed right on to the boat with no fear and without hesitation, just before the questions started flowing. It took a long while for a complete inspection. Carson is a natural problem solver, and there are certainly plenty of problems to solve on an old sailboat. At one point I realized I was explaining my bright work maintenance to a 4 year old. The companionway ladder seemed to be the biggest hit. He liked the challenge of climbing a ladder that was a bit too big for him.
Carson on the companionway ladder
Since the cabin of a 30 foot sailboat does not satisfy the 5 acre requirement, we needed to do something more active for a while. We went back to the car and broke out the tricycle. It is great fun to ride the tricycle as fast as possible down the bathhouse ramp. Carson called it his racetrack and never suspected it wasn't built for this purpose.
Carson took dock cart rides while we unloaded the car.
When the sun started down, the temperature went with it. We had the propane heater and 2 small electric heaters. Carson really didn't like the propane heater because he could see the fire. He finally got used to it, and it was the only thing on the boat that made him uncomfortable. His instincts were correct. A propane heater has no place on a boat, but we had little choice if we wanted to stay warm.
We weren't sure what we were going to do with a lot of "inside" time. We brought lots of toys and puzzles that would keep him occupied for short periods of time. Judy served her homemade spaghetti with fresh baked bread and coleslaw. It was great. Carson had Mac 'n Cheese. After dinner we rigged the ship's theater and made the table into a big bed so we could all sit and watch Carson's new DVD. He watched "CARS II" for a little while but lost interest because he said "It's all about shooting and I don't like shooting". It was touch and go for a while after we turned the movie off. Carson was so tired that he couldn't easily fall asleep. Jason did a masterful job of getting him settled down and off to bed. Sleeping quarters in a 30-footer are just as cramped as you would expect but everyone got settled and off to sleep pretty early. The temperature was dropping but the wind quieted so the electric heaters were able to keep the boat nice and warm. The propane spent the night outside.
Sunday January 15, 2012
Carson woke up early, so everyone was up early. Gram offered to make sweet potato pancakes for breakfast, so we had to pressurize the alcohol tank in the stern locker. Carson wanted to see the tank but didn't like the 12 volt pump because it made too much noise. The pancakes and fruit were great, but the cabin got a little too small for Carson. We told him that we could go out on the foredeck so he could see the anchor as soon as we all got our life jackets on. Carson is very particular about what he wears. When he willingly let us put the life jacket on, we were all shocked. Later, Judy said that she would have bet big bucks that he would have nothing to do with a life jacket. I think his dad had been talking about the life jacket before the trip. With Carson it's all about the marketing.
With our life jackets on, we went up on deck. It seemed as if Carson had been climbing around on a boat for years. I stayed close and was of course concerned for safety, but Carson had no problem with any of it. We looked at the anchor and I explained how it worked.
He inspected the foredeck and discovered the hatch. Of course he asked what it was, so his dad went below and opened it up. The hatch was very impressive. He wanted to crawl in and out and have it opened and closed.
After the foredeck inspection and dozens of questions, we went back to the cockpit. Carson had been very impressed with the diesel engine in the "living room" and wanted me to crank it up. Seeing the water coming of the exhaust was impressive to him. We shifted into forward and reverse several times. Again he seemed to be comfortable with the boat's motion. We turned the wheel and we could see that it was moving the rudder and that was cool too. He asked me why we couldn't go for a ride out into the "pond". Unfortunately, the cold temperature and high winds would not allow even a little ride.
We had a lot of packing to do and we wanted to get home before too late. Carson enjoyed more cart rides and we made sure he got to ride his tricycle down the ramp to burn up some energy. We left for home shortly after noon. It was a long ride but we made a lot of stops. Gram did a great job of keeping him occupied.
I haven't mentioned Jason much in this log but he was a very important part of the weekend. I think he enjoyed being away from his pager and just relaxing a bit, even if it was only overnight. I sure enjoyed the time we spent together talking, especially during the drive time. I'm not sure where Jason learned to be such a great dad, but he did and I am very proud of him.
The weekend was a smashing success by anyone's standard. Carson did not want to leave and seemed to have a really good time. When I asked Carson what his favorite part of the trip was, he replied, the racetrack (bathhouse ramp) and the (companionway) ladder. His reply did not surprise anyone.
It is my hope that both my grandsons and (future) granddaughter will enjoy spending time on the boat with Gram and Papa. Next time, the weather will be warmer and we will see if we indeed have a sailor on our hands.