Monday, July 16, 2007

Kings Point, Stamford and Wilton Connecticut

In between Manhasset Bay and Oyster Bay we took a short detour back to Kings Point .Merchant Marine Academy where Jim Sr. matriculated. He graduated with the class of ’49 after 2 years in school and 2 years at sea (but with schoolwork added to shipboard duties). They probably “learned” him a thing or two about the sea that he didn’t already know from his prior schooling in small boats with his brothers in St. Andrews Bay and the Gulf around Panama City.

We tried to schedule a tour via phone, but after one Captain said “no- it’s indoc and we don’t give tours during indoc”, I finally got the secretary of the Commandant who said she didn’t see why not and transferred me to the Waterfront since we would be arriving by boat. (Indoc turned out to be shorthand for indoctrination of the new plebes- freshmen). I told Waterfront that we had permission from the Commandant’s office for a visit so they were very helpful.

The day’s head of Waterfront was a senior named Allie Davis who helped tie us to the inside dock next to the 150’ training vessel, the Kings Pointer. She then gave us a wonderful tour of the campus where we saw the plebes being marched here and there and getting chewed out by the drill sergeants for things we couldn’t ascertain. Allie was very knowledgeable about the school, the campus, and also the inside tidbits to make us laugh. She had just returned from sea where she literally went around the world in 88 days. She didn’t like pulling into Hawaii at 10pm and leaving the next morning at 4am. After an hour and a half she had to go back to work, and left us to wander around some more, and then hang out under a huge shade tree on a picnic table next to the water. The visibility was excellent, and the New York skyline stood out in sharp contrast against the sky. A very beautiful campus, and we can see why Dad loved it so much. I mean a guy who grew up on the water and was then in this beautiful school to learn more about boats and the sea? He must have been in hog heaven.

Allie’s boss (I can’t tell rank by the shoulder boards) offered to let us stay for the night which was very nice, but we wanted to get back to Port Washington to see if our navigation chips had come in (they had). As we sailed back my phone rang and it was one of the Captains I had left messages with about our desire for a tour. He told me that it was indoc week and no tours were permitted. I thanked him and hung up. It’s not who you know, it’s how you treat the secretaries.

Yesterday we sailed from Oyster Bay across to Stamford Harbor, CT. Well, we tried to sail but the wind died and we motored most of the way. I counted 140 sailboats out on the water on this pretty Saturday. We picked up a mooring ($40/night) and a rental car, and spent today (Sunday) visiting Kathy’s junior high school area and home in Stamford. We ate in a little diner she used to go to with her family. The current owner of her old home, Mr. Leon Katz, saw us taking pictures from the road and came out to give us a tour of his flower garden in the backyard which he has put 35 years of work into. We took pictures of Kathy’s school, and rode around town listening to Kathy say “I remember that store…that one is new…I don’t remember this area…we used to sled on that hill….” I was waiting for “I got my first kiss on that corner” but it wasn’t to be.

Then we drove 15 minutes out the Merritt Parkway to my hometown of 1970, Wilton, where I graduated from high school. How about them apples? Kathy and I both lived in Connecticut towns 15 minutes apart before we met in Colorado. We drove around town, and Kathy and Rachel got to hear me say “I remember that store…that one is new…yadda yadda”. We visited my old house and took pictures from the street. We saw the neighbor’s driveway where I first slid down a snow covered hill with skis and the straight-a-way where I crashed my Mustang due to bald tires in the rain. We took pictures of my old high school and checked out the brand new Astroturf on the soccer field.

We surprised my cousin Carl Nelson and his wife Lisa who live in a beautiful ridgetop home in the woods of north Wilton. Rachel played in their pool with Ruthy and Greg and a couple of neighbor kids while we adults got caught up on each others lives. It was a special visit for us; definitely the highlight of the day and one of those great events which happen spur of the moment, due to living and traveling on a boat with no schedule other than a rough idea and the whims of the weather.

Tomorrow morning I’ll return the rental car and bike back to the boat (about a half-hour ride). Kathy and Rachel will swim in the yacht club pool while I’m gone, and then we’ll sail back across the Sound to Port Jefferson.

When Rachel kissed me goodnight, she told me what a wonderful day she had. It doesn’t get any better than that.


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