Hard Aground with Eddie Jones

Hard Aground with Eddie Jones (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2014)

The year I turned thirty my wife became pregnant with our first child. That was on me; I take full responsibility. I was warned by others–men, mostly–that my wife was about to change.

Wait, what I meant to say is that MY LIFE WAS ABOUT TO CHANGE.

My wife also changed, but I have learned to never comment on my wife’s physical appearance or emotional state, so forget I even mentioned it. The point is (I know there is one here someplace) if I was going to hang onto my dreams and youth and vigor I had to act fast.

So I bought a boat.

It was a small thing, a ComPac 16. Our tiny kitchen was bigger. I found this used ComPac 16 through a classified ad in a boating magazine. This was before Al Gore invented the Internet. I talked my dad into riding with me to Charleston, South Carolina to pick up my boat. I also talked Dad into driving. (He had a car with a trailer hitch.)

I did not tell my wife I was going to buy a boat.

I paid a little under $4000 for my yacht which, at the time, seemed like a good price for such a fine vessel. Thankfully Dad had the good sense to check the wheel bearings on the trailer before we drove off. Turns out that was the first boating lesson I ever learned: always bring along crew who are smarter, stronger, and if possible, have more money than you.

I parked my yacht in the backyard of our home and there it sat until our son was born four months later. I wasn’t about to take my pregnant wife sailing or leave my pregnant wife home while I went sailing.

So . . . the next thirty-some years our family sailed the coastal waters of North Carolina, the Bahamas, and the Keys on a variety of vessels. We sailed out of New Bern until I planted our next “yacht” atop the canoe dock at Camp Don Lee. After “we re-launched” that little Nimble 20 (a bunch of us jumped up and down on the dock until it broke), I limped into Oriental, NC, and pretty much sailed out of there for the rest of my sailing career. Back then Oriental was a colorful, little town with quirky, colorful characters — most of whom suffered from some serious sailing addictions. Once I bought my wife sailing lessons for her birthday. To my knowledge, that was the only time any of our family ever received any formal boating training.

But boy did we learn some stuff on boats.

Not long ago my two boys were invited to go with friends to the BVIs on a week-long sailing charter. Since they were two of four participants who had ever actually raised a sail, they were put in charge of one of the yachts. When they got home they thanked me. Turns out all those sailing mistakes our family suffered due to my navigational ineptness had actually taught them how to do things the right way. (“Don’t do what Dad did, do the opposite.”)

If you buy this book and read even half of it, perhaps you too, can learn from my mistakes, laugh a little, and be thankful you don’t own a boat. But should you find yourself wanting a boat, my advice to you would be: BUY ONE! A boat, no matter its costs, is almost always cheaper than couple’s therapy, marriage counseling, or a horse. Plus, one day you’ll get to sell or sink the sucker and you’ll find that day is another reason to celebrate having once owned a boat.

This is the 1st volume in this series and covers the years when we sailed on small yachts. (A “yacht” is any boat I cannot afford. These stories first appeared in Carolina Cruising Magazine and later Coastal Cruising Magazine. For a time Hard Aground with Eddie was a popular column. But then, Al Gore invented the Internet and that put an end to regional magazines supported by print ads. Hope you enjoy the book. – EJ


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