atthehelmRecently my son and I took a 4 day sailing trip in Puget Sound (Washington State). That’s him in the photo.

Sucia Island:
The first day we sailed from Blaine, Washington to Sucia. It took us about 5 hours, sailing and motoring to the island. After hiking the island a bit, we went back to the boat and ate hot dogs and beans for dinner. (This turned out to be our fare nearly every night.) Then we settled down on the deck to watch the stars as we went to sleep.

In the wee hours of the night Guy woke me up to see a neighboring boat drifting our way. She was dragging anchor and got about 8 feet from us. Then we swung apart in the current and the boat stayed away. We didn’t get much sleep though; waking up every so often to check the boat.

Stuart Island:
The wind was good as we sailed to Stuart and the cove we moored in was protected and smooth. We tied up to a free floating dock and rowed to shore. The hiking was great. We met an older man snorkeling in a small bay. He was a bit of a BS’er but a lot of fun to talk to.

That night my son showed me how to find the little dipper, and the sky showed off a plethora of falling stars.

The next morning, on the way out of Stuart, we saw 4 deer climbing along a rocky shore and up a cliff.

Rosario on Orcas Island:
Rosario is a resort and the moorings come with special perks, namely showers (yay!), swimming pools, and saunas. We ate lunch and dinner at a small cafe – finally, not beans and hotdogs! That night my son and I had a great talk while sipping rum in the hold of our boat.

Back to Blaine:
The next morning, after a precarious launch, we motored back to Blane. There was no wind so motoring was necessary – and we also wanted to make good time. Halfway home we turned off the motor and drifted for awhile in the silent, glassy sea.

Well, those are the places we sailed to, but it doesn’t really describe our trip. We haven’t had a father/son trip for years. It was good to spend the time together sailing and to reconnect and learn about each other. My son is a grown man with a successful career, a beautiful wife, and a smiling 6 month old baby boy. He’s no longer the 10 year old I used to climb rocks with or the 14 year old I’d drive to the ski bus on cold winter mornings. I knew that boy so well, and now I think I’ve come to know the young man too.

Describing love is a bit like trying to explain the color white to a blind man. You know what you feel, you understand what it is, but words stumble and fall and diminish what you know to be real.

So I can only describe the love I feel for my son in trite terms that fall short of my meaning. Half of his genetic makeup is from me and the other half from his mother. Yet, he is unique, special, his own man. He has accomplished so much in just 34 years and I am very proud of him for that. But my love for him is not grounded in his talents or even in his successes. It’s something deeper. Something more important. He has taken the little we were able to give him and made so much more out of it.

I guess I’m talking about character. He knows what it means to be a man; to provide for his family and stand up for what he knows to be true.

And, somewhere, hiding around the pillars of his soul, I know that young boy still exists.

I love that little boy and the man he has become.

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