Al Muskovitz shares a story of how he was involved in a dramatic boating incident in the early 1990s on Lake Charlevoix as a captain.
“Let my container ship go!” What are the chances that during Passover another act of freedom would be celebrated? In a brilliant public relations move last week, God paid homage to Passover by letting that giant ship go forth from Egypt. The grounded vessel sat idle for six days in the Suez Canal like a beached whale, holding up hundreds of ships and billions of dollars’ worth of commerce.
Efforts by tugboats and dredgers removing tons of sand finally succeeded in releasing the boat from its resting place. Although a leaked memo from Egyptian authorities claimed a secret infusion of MiraLAX is what ultimately did the trick.
I know all too well how the ship’s captain felt because I was also involved in a dramatic boating incident in the early 1990s on Lake Charlevoix. While vacationing, I decided it would be a good idea to rent a motorboat and take my young family on a cruise around the waterways.
Up until that point, my only sea faring experience had been passing the canoe nomenclature test at Camp Tanuga in 1963, enough, I thought, to man the helm of a boat.
I maneuvered through the blue waters without incident when I decided that time would allow for one port of call for a quick lunch. Our destination, a waterfront restaurant called Hard Dock Landing, a name that would be a harbinger of things to come.
I’m not a very good parallel parker on dry land, so I guess it must have been foolish pride that convinced me I could properly dock a boat.
As the dock for the restaurant edged closer, I began an internal nautical conversation. “Avast. All engines stop!” I muttered under my breath, preparing to let my vessel float its way gently to the dock. And float it did, until the bow of the boat hit the dock and got wedged and stuck under the restaurant’s “Dock Here” sign. Yes, I had, in my own inimitable way, come in for a “Hard Dock Landing.”
The spectacle of an arrival startled my family, but of course, I could not allow panic to reign on the bridge of my ship — not on my watch! I got myself into this mess and I was going to seamlessly get myself out of it.
“Full engines reverse!” I yelled in my inner sailor’s voice as I proceeded to shift gears in an attempt to dislodge the boat from the large wooden restaurant sign holding us captive. The boat slowly struggled to move away from the dock, like a fish trying to free itself from the grasp of a hook.
I could feel progress being made. Actually, I could “hear” progress being made because emanating from the wooden sign was an ear-piercing, gut-wrenching sound of nails being violently ripped from their lodging to the dock. I freed my boat but was taking the restaurant’s sign with me!
A lesser man would’ve fled the scene but not me. I was hungry and I was willing to swallow my pride (the incident was witnessed by restaurant patrons on a patio) in order to swallow some lunch. I walked up to the maître d’ an offered the traditional Jewish boater’s greeting — “Oyhoy, matey!”
Fortunately, I wasn’t confined to the brig or asked to cover repair costs for this accident at sea. As a good will gesture, I tipped our server handsomely and bought a Hard Dock Landing T-shirt for the memory.
I fully admit the dock-crashing fiasco that fateful day lay solely on operator error. I could’ve blamed it on rough waters, but alas, the sea was not angry that day… only the manager of the restaurant.