Just, The Two of Us


I only, ever, had two uncles.  One was always off doing exciting stuff.  The other one was “serious,” and stuck close to home.  Neither one of ‘em ever “did” anything with me.  Not that I wouldn’t have loved it.  But, it never really happened.  Anyhow.

Sydney is my brother’s, daughter’s, kid.  People who know about these sorts of things would say she’s my grandniece, I suspect.  I call her “Sydney.”  She calls me, “Uncle Dan.”  Good enough, for us.

It took us several re-skeds, and a couple false starts.  But, today, we had a pretty cool adventure.  Just the two of us.  Actually, make that three.  Jamie-the-sea-dog came along, too.  Sydney is a real bright kid.  Way more polished, way more erudite, than I was – or anybody I knew – at her age.  We can discuss just about anything.  She has a pretty good grasp of stuff like nuance, and stage presence, and even double entendre.  My kinda’ girl.  Today’s mission was simple.  We went swimming.

The notion was simplicity, itself.  The actual evolution was a bunch more complex.  I ended up hauling a 3,000 pound boat about 100 hundred miles.  Sydney’s mom had to leave work in the middle of the day and meet up with me at a tight little launch ramp at a pretty small lake.  I had to pay a rather exorbitant out of state launch/vehicle fee.  And, we had to run the length of the lake and anchor.  Know what?  All, very much worth the time, effort, and expense.  Yep.

Sydney, Jamie, and I launched and headed up-lake without much delay or difficulty.

Today is the 15th of August.  Warm air.  Warm water.  Almost no people.  We had the anchorage all to ourselves.  Heck, we had most of the durn lake to ourselves.

I jumped in, and took a few pictures with my little waterproof camera.

Sydney isn’t the most confident swimmer, and her mom feels better about things if she wears a life jacket.  No problem, there.  Of course, I normally have a bit of a “hidden agenda” when it comes to expanding somebody’s horizons.  And, It’s been over 50 years since I qualified as a lifeguard.  Soooooo, a little safety is a good idea.  But, our objective today was to be jumping into the water from deck level before it was time to go home.

And, that, we did.  But, have you ever eaten your lunch while swimming in 20 feet of water?  Granted, an eclectic menu.

There was the famous “Uncle Dan’s waterproof PBJ.”

And, the fruit course.  In this case, floating grapefruit, served on the half-shell.  Followed by waterproof granola bars, an orange or two, and at least one apple.  A far, far cry from those boring days of yesteryear when kids had to stay out of the water for an hour after lunch.  Somehow, mothers were certain you could get a stomach cramp and plummet straight to the bottom if this shibboleth wasn’t strictly observed.  And, of course, the problem with that logic, was that we were all starving again after an hour.  I think I lost more good swimming time, as a kid, in the service of avoiding stomach cramps, than to anything else.  Not today, though.

We had about 4 hours, start to finish.  Sydney was either jumping in, climbing back out, or swimming after the tow rope for the entire time.  Jamie and I were a bit more conservative.  Stomach cramps, and all, you know.

Then, suddenly, it was time to pull the hook and head for the ramp.  But, it was pretty cool.  No adult supervision.  We made up limericks – as we often do – without censorship.  We improved our swimming technique – without formal instruction.  We managed to fill the hours without digital devices, or even a nanosecond of boredom.  Just the two of us.

Ok.  You’re right.  The THREE of us.


  1. Beautiful story Dan. In the end, it’s all about relationships, and it’s neat how well boats fit into that scheme of things. This Thanksgiving, we got to visit with some grandkids we seldom see, and some we see more often. They’re all in their 20s and 30s now, but still…. None of ’em interested in boats as yet, but neither was I at their age. There’s still hope.

  2. Jim:

    Even I, will accept that boats are not just a matter of life or death. I’m sure they are much more important than that!


  3. Hi Chip.

    Miss Kathleen does end up in these pages about once a week on one adventure or another. She is at the moment undergoing a complete re-build that involved amputating the deckhouse and all the exterior brightwork right down to the sheerline. After about 20,000 road miles and a couple thousand on the water over the past two summers, I decided that things needed updating. Hopefully she will re-emerge come February. The cabin top is now about three feet longer, and the aft cockpit commensurately shorter. Overall, she has been quite satisfactory as both a “travel trailer,” and as an easily-driven and seakindly displacement cruiser. I also built a tandem axle trailer for her this fall, to replace the one that I had literally worn out. So, we will hopefully be back in action real soon. And, you never know. Chuck and Mike may one day publish some of those opus’. The original story of her creation will be in the archives under “The Birthing of Miss Kathleen.”


    The Frankenwerke, Almostcanada.

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