After the hour and a half drive, I spot the familiar marker that indicates that we have arrived at our destination. While most homes along this route have the standard driveway with a mailbox and address number used for identification, two lonely black iron gates, barely standing on either side of a dirt/grass path seemingly leading to nowhere is where I make my turn. I ride up a bit and stop next to a stand alone garage containing all sorts of water sports paraphernalia. Further up the path I see the dwelling known affectionately as “The Shack”. While very much resembling a shack at one point in its history, the place has grown over the years due to the blood sweat and tears of my Aunt and Uncle and now the name “The Shack” only carries sentimental ties.
This particular weekend is the start of the annual Port Huron to Mackinaw sailboat race and the starting line is right off of the shore from The Shack. The whole Perry clan is up at The Shack to enjoy the water and watch the start. My father grew up racing sailboats on the Detroit River as did his family and as a result, there are various boats with which to play. While the speed boat and power dinghy may appeal to most casual beach goers. I prefer the Hobie Cat and Lasers. Because I don’t get the chance to sail hardly ever any more, I am giddy like a kid on Christmas morning at the prospect of going out for a sail.
As we begin prepping the boats to head out, I am reminded of how this side of the lake’s beaches are. Blazing hot sand is the obstacle to deal with as well as tiny prickers strewn across the higher parts of the beach that make the going rough. Upon entering the water, there is a 10 foot section of boulders that you have get across without wiping out before you get to the nice sandy bottom. I can’t help but look at my brother-in-law and do a modified quote of The Lord of The Rings “One does not simply walk into Lake Huron…”
As soon as we get the boats ready to shove off, my first action is to ask my father if he would like to take the other Laser out with me. I am 43 years old and I still want my dad to play with me. He declines…I think to let other people sail…regardless, I immediately feel a little bit of the shine of the moment fade away. I head out alone towards the cat paws I see further out on the surface…indicating better wind. An enjoyable trip finding the optimal path across the water suddenly gets better when I see that my dad actually did take the other boat out and is now tooling around with me. I can see the delight on his face as he skims across the water and I am sure it mirrors the images he sees in me. I think back to my youth when my father used to take us out on Sunfishes and we would race around the lake. I loved it then as I do now. Why can’t these moments last forever?
After a while, the stronger air never materializes and we decide to head in as it’s time to give someone else a sail. We pull into the beach and Ellen is standing with Benson in her arms. He has been asking for daddy ever since I left. I settle the boat on the beach and head over. he wants to show me something so I follow him to the cement breakwater that no longer juts out into Lake Huron. Benson says “Watch me daddy!” as he runs to the end of the cement structure and jumps off into the sand. This is followed by at least a dozen more jumps, all the while shouting “Daddy watch me!” The glee of having me watch his jumps is beaming from my son and I take in just as much joy from the moment as him. The cycle never ends. Not matter how old or young we are, we always want our daddies.