The Cap’n admitted that I could tell a national naval ensign from a yacht club burgee, knew port from starboard and fore from aft. He was less sure about other things being that my father was an engineer – snipe. Of course, when the two did meet, very rarely, they were cautious to keep the slurs to a minimum; neither wanted to instigate a family row and get the wives involved.
The wives, my mother, and the Cap’n’s wife Cora got along ” cordially and civilly,” like two ladies were expected to, said my mother. They shared in common a history of husbands at sea for long periods in the Merchant Marine and being abandoned for the boats they both fussed over. In my father’s case, it was the old Navy gig he was restoring with friends, and in the Cap’ns, it was the 34-foot ketch Psyche. Briefly, both wives were sea widows, and it was a bond that surpassed any Maine vs. New York comparisons. They treated the Bridge versus Engine Room rivalry of their husbands as nonsense.
No visit to the “Cove” would have been complete in August without a picnic aboard Psyche. So while the ladies, Cora, my mother, and wife prepared the picnic baskets, my father, the Cap’n, and I headed to the mooring. But, unfortunately, we discovered that the elderly Detroit Diesel that powered the ketch when not under sail was acting up. So, borrowing a launch, we towed Psyche to the float, and Bridge and Engine room personnel began to tear things apart.
Not to squander a lovely day, the picnic was held there on the float, as the two mariners ordered the crew, me, to fetch and carry. Eventually, the ladies were sent to the marine supply store with a list of necessaries. With the picnic, the diesel parts, and activity, we soon attracted a gathering of locals; Lowell the lobsterman, Lyman the Capn’s brother, and a bunch of neer do well seagulls. Eventually, we got the perpetually cranky diesel reassembled.
The next day, early, Bridge and Engine room visited Lowell and Lyman to take “a fast look” at their cranky engines. However, a planned outing for the ladies was completed without Bridge and Engine Room. Instead, they were out on Lowell’s lobster boat diagnosing a hard to pin down problem with its engine.
Three days later, my parents returned to New York. Most of the engine problems in the “cove” had been solved, numerous stories about life at sea told, and even a few hours spent sailing. The result of the meeting in the local confines of the cove seemed to be that while the Cap’n could navigate and pilot his way anywhere in the world, my dad could repair any engine known to man.
As Lyman and Lowell confided to me, I was lucky to have Bridge and Engine Room in one family. How could a seaman go wrong?