So I was living in my self-built 15' Washington County design lapstake peapod one summer, cruising the coast of Maine. Oars and a sprit rig were my motive power. It was basically primitive camping afloat.
Late one afternoon I anchored off a teensy little spit of rock and sand some might call an island. I tucked into the cove on the eastern side and dropped bow and stern anchors to keep the bow into the waves and the rolling to a minimum.
About an hour later I heard noise on the other side of the island and glanced over to see a pair of wicked nice tall wooden masts rather close by.
I pulled in my anchors and rowed around the corner to get a look at my "neighbor for the night".
There she was in all her glory,
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Well ... since she was at anchor her sails were down, but she was a sight to see. Gen. George Patton's "When & If" was anchored on the deep water side of the spit. This was during her time as part of the LandMark School. They were on their annual summer cruise.
I rowed by looking at the rig and studying the classic lines of her hull when I was hailed by the skipper. I rowed closer and discovered I was being invited to dinner. I declined as I'd already eaten, but I did accept an invite to go aboard and get the nickle tour.
There was the skipper, the first mate and a crew of 12 or so teenagers on board. The kids were thrilled to have a visitor to show around and I think I actually got the $5 tour.
I'm sure that for some of them living in the close quarters of "When & If" was a bit of a shock the first few days. She was quite the spartan boat like most training ships. But their chests puffed out in pride as they showed me about, and I think they wondered what sort of a kook lived alone in a 15' open boat.
Dusk started falling so I got ready to cast off and go back to my side of the island. I noticed a small conference going on between several students and the first mate. Just as I prepared to cast off a group came to the rail and the first mate asked me to wait as the students had a request.
The duly elected student rep stepped forward and asked if I'd be willing to join them for breakfast the following morning.
Now I may be dumb, and I may be stupid, but I'd just seen the galley onboard, so it didn't take me long to accpet their generous offer.
The winds were quiet that night and no anchor watch was disturbed by gusts or dragging hooks.
I waited a reasonable time after daybreak and rowed around the corner and was greeted by all the students manning the rail in anticipation of the breakfast guest. The skipper and first mate were quietly grinning at how their crew seemed to have adopted a mascot. Much like folks adopt a stray dog or cat.
Fenders rigged, lines set fore and aft, oars stowed, my peapod nestled nicely alongside and I climbed the ladder to join everyone..
Scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, and ice cold orange juice were quite a treat for me. I got to answer a zillion questions about my little boat and my plans. It almost seemed like they all stayed up all night writing questions and making sure each had a different batch to ask me.
Finally the first mate slowed the inquisition,
, and reminded them of their daily tasks and the need to get underway.
I made my way to the rail again, ready to go take a long nap to let that wondrous breakie settle, when the first mate and skipper suggested I wait a moment.
A pair of students came forward and said they wanted to give me a gift. With a Ta-Da that would do Hollywood proud they whipped out a plastic bag.
It held a chunk of ice.
Those kids were sharp, they'd listened, and heard that I didn't have ice to keep my Coke chilled and that I was using a mesh bag dropped over the side to let the ocean chill the cans.
It really was touching that those kids wanted me to have access to ice cold Coke at least for a little while.
I made my way down the rope ladder to my vessel and carefully stowed the precious ice in a safe place and put a few Cokes with it.
We all said goodbye several times and I cast off.
As I rowed away I could hear the skipper and first mate giving orders and getting the kids focused on safely doing their chores and getting ready for that day's sail.
The next batch of sailors being taught proper seamanship.
They'd already learned how to be generous citizens.