My dad is a very good boat driver, probably because he spent a lot of his childhood puttering around lakes in Wisconsin. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to pass that skill onto me, because coastal California doesn’t have many lakes big enough to putter around in. This became a problem once I realized that some of my future field sites are a bit too far from shore for me to swim to and I enrolled in the Scripps boating class.
As expected, my first day of trying to drive boats went pretty badly. I became convinced that ‘tiller control’ is an oxymoron, had a lot of trouble making tight turns or pulling up to docks, and despaired of ever passing the class. Thankfully my dad was in town that weekend and agreed to spend the afternoon helping me get some extra practice at boat driving in Mission Bay. I’m sure that can’t have been fun at the beginning of the lesson when it took me about five tries just to pull into a slip, but thanks to my dad’s very patient instruction I was able to improve a lot. By the end the only thing that fazed me was the one dock I tried to pull up to that had an anti-sea lion infrared targeting watergun that couldn’t tell the difference between sea lions and people.
That next Monday I certainly wasn’t the best in my class as some of my classmates had years of boating experience, but I did pass. Thanks Dad, I couldn’t have done it without you.