"Jon," he said
"The two happiest days in a boaters life, the day they buy a boat and the day they get rid of it."
I looked back at him with a puzzled look on my face,
"But Frank, I think it'd be fun to own a boat, the freedom of the open ocean, the fresh sea air, the ability to get away from it all." by now he was almost crying he was laughing so hard.
"Did I ever tell you about the time me and Don were up by Morro Bay with a fishing charter?"
I shook my head no, (he had been in partnership for a while with Don running a fishing charter out of Quivira Bay in San Diego, I never did get to know what they were doing up in Morro Bay with the boat.)
"We were cruising along in a decent swell and one minute we were looking at the land on the horizon and the next we were staring through deep green sea water before we bobbed back up to the surface, and that was on a sixty footer! Close your eyes for a second," he said "and try and imagine how that would feel, one second you're breathing fresh sea air and the next you're struggling to hold your breath as you're plunged ten foot under by some rouge wave." I did and I found myself holding my breath and then gasping for air as I thought about the scenario.
"We're not buying a boat," he stopped laughing and nodded his head at me, "Good Idea."
The lure of a boat though did get to us and so we began our search in late 2003, our intention was to find one that would be docked somewhere, where we could go hang out for a weekend and cruise around the bays, the whole open ocean thing was a thing of the past since Franks pep talk.
I wanted to find a boat that was big enough to be comfortable, but not too big to handle, one that I could steal a great deal on and eventually we found it. We had spent countless hours on the internet scouring brokers websites, running down to the beach every weekend, buying every boat trader magazine we could lay our hands on before we finally came across our boat accidentally, for sale by owner. It was a perfect size and it was a great deal, probably due to the fact that one of the engines wasn't running and we weren't able to sea trial it, nevertheless we had found our retreat on the sea. The broker warned us against buying it, "Don't buy someone else's trouble," was his mantra, did I listen, nope, not me, the greatest deal finder in the greater Los Angeles area if not the whole of California! so we bought it and many, many times Franks other little words of wisdom came flooding back to my mind.
"Boat, Jon, you know what that means right? Break Out Another Thou!"
Well we persevered and we spent more than we should have on maintenance and after owning it for seven years and spending a grand total of about 3 hours out of the dock cruising the bay we got rid of it and we were sorta happy, it's not that we didn't use it for what we intended, we spent many weekends on it and every now and then we'd crank the engines to circulate the oil and we'd sit in the cockpit sipping a cocktail or a glass of wine while the BBQ slowly seared our dinner and we'd stare out at the flickering lights on the hillside near our marina and we enjoyed life on our boat from the comfort of our dock.
When I say we got rid of it, what I mean is we traded it for a more manageable smaller, easier serviced boat that we now have docked in Franks old home port in San Diego's Quivira Bay and we truly are using this boat for what it's meant to be used for. We're actually cruising the bays and taking her out to open ocean and last weekend we actually dropped anchor off the coast, cut the engines and enjoyed the quiet of the open seas around us. We've had dolphins swimming alongside us as we powered up the coastline, we spotted a giant sea turtle that may have actually been Crush from Finding Nemo, floating along barely submerged under the waves, we've got a sea lion who comes into the channel we're docked at for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we have a Pit Bull named Maya who will swim around the docked boats, literally for an hour while her owner tosses rocks for her to catch.
So why did I choose to write about boating for this post I hear you asking and whats the point behind all this? Well I'll tell ya, boating and San Diego and Quivira Bay, always get me thinking about Frank, Patty's dad, Frank, and whenever I think about Frank I usually end up with a smile on my face because he was a cheeky bugger who was always up to no good, he was a scallywag, a strikingly handsome larger than life bloke, who never told a lot of stories but when he did he was the kind of storyteller that you enjoyed listening too, he was a member of the Greatest Generation a WWII Marine Veteran who lied about his age so he could enlist and serve this Country and serve he did, he saw action, mostly in the Japanese arena and was involved in the Battle of Okinawa. One of the stories he did tell us that we'll never forget was about how scared he was coming in to the beaches in landing craft, his eyes got a little misty as he recalled hearing bullets hitting the loading ramps in front of the craft and how his buddies were throwing up around him from a mixture of sea sickness and fear and how he knew that once that gate dropped it would be a mad scramble for survival and the bullets that were hitting outside the craft would then be tearing into the flesh of the marines crowded inside,but the stench inside the craft was something that he had to get away from so he pushed forward in spite of rounds hitting marines alongside of him and how he saw buddies drowning because the craft dropped the gate in water too deep to touch ground and the weight of the packs dragged men to the bottom. (We still haven't been able to watch Saving Private Ryan) That was the only story he ever told about fighting in that war and I'll never forget it, he was all the things I said he was prior, but he was and always will be a hero to me alongside every person that's ever pulled on a uniform to serve their country.
Today I remember Frank Czarniewski because today he would have been his 87th birthday but in 1998 Frank lost his battle with Cancer and so even though I'm Writing In Spite of Myself, I wanted to dedicate this post to him and his Greatest Generation.