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On the Water

It began when my dad built us kids kayaks from an old set of Popular Mechanics plans and a trunk full of barrel staves he bought from the last cooperage in South Boston. We built them on saw-horses in the turn-around part of the driveway outside the cellar door at 28 School St. in Weston. Olgivies had the three-quarter-inch pine frames and keel and the quarter-inch battens over which we would drape the canvas duck. What fun we had setting up the strongback, pre-drilling for the many tiny screws, and nailing hundreds of copper tacks along the gunwale. It was before everyone had battery-powered drills/screw-drivers, so we did the whole job by hand.

When I was nineteen and took my first year off from college, I signed onto the Norwegian freighter Evanger for a trip "around the Horn" (actually we took a short-cut through the Straits of Magellan, leaving Tierra del Fuego to starboard).

By the time I was twenty-three, I had memorized Chapman's "Piloting, Seamanship, and Small Boat Handling" and read all the cruising books I could find. A few years later, after I quit graduate school, I built a 31-foot ocean-going sloop in my front yard and sailed her from San Francisco to Rhode Island via Panama.

Then I messed around in boats for the next decade, before I went (back) into computers...