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That warm summer afternoon I walked down the slope toward the boat house.  From the boat house, but now with a hand crafted kayak on my shoulder, I continued down the slope toward the Hudson River at one of its widest spots, The Tappan Zee.  The location on the shore of the Hudson River, the access to the kayaks, and the solitude of the sunny afternoon – they all came with being the athletic director at the Nyack Boys School.  Prior to that time in my life, my exposure to water had been indoor and outdoor swimming pools in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains.

The feel in my hands of the double bladed oar, the slight sound of the lapping water, the look of the receding shore line as I headed into the Hudson River toward the eastern shore three miles away, seeing the cars but not hearing them as they drove across the Tappan Zee bridge, resting the oars and drifting slowly with the current, and then finally heading back toward the school buildings nestled on the sloping shore line – they were solace to the soul of the 20 year old college student that I was at that time.

Many years later and thousands of miles away, I would have my one and only kayak, a gift from Joyce.  It also had only one seat.  There weren’t many places in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to use it without going to the River Plate, which measured about 50 miles across as it emptied into the South Atlantic Ocean.  But, the kayak did fit on the trailer for an occasional visit to Cordoba, where I was able to go from the camp site to town several miles away, get an ice cream cone, and put back into the water for the return to the camp.

All those years my boating experience was very solitary, providing a way to be alone.  Later, that would change somewhat and correspond to “The Voyage”, which you can listen to as the Celtic Thunder’s George Donaldson sings it by clicking www.myspace.com/music/player?sid=164453&ac=now.  The lyrics go this way:

I am a sailor, you’re my first mate. . . We signed on together, we coupled our fate . . . We hauled up our anchor, determined not to fail . . . For the heart’s treasure, together we set sail

With no maps to guide us, we steered our own course . . . We rode out the storms when the winds were gale force . . . We sat out the doldrums in patience and hope . . . Working together, we learned how to cope

Life is an ocean, love is a boat . . . In troubled waters, it keeps us afloat . . . When we started the voyage, there was just me and you . . . Now, gathered ’round us, we have our own crew

Together we’re in this relationship . . . We built it with care to last the whole trip . . . Our crew destination’s not marked on any charts . . . We’re navigating for the shores of the heart

Life is an ocean, love is a boat . . . In troubled waters, it keeps us afloat . . . When we started the voyage, there was just me and you . . . Now, gathered ’round us, we have our own crew

The first mate has finished her part of the “voyage” we had.  The three crewmen on the boat with my first mate and me are now each on their own voyage of love, and have each taken on their own crew members.  I imagine that they have their times of thinking there is no map to follow, of having to ride through some storms with gale force winds, and of learning how to cope as they have worked together.

Being on the water in a one seat kayak has its attraction.  But, to take the trip of life, I recommend a boat big enough to have a first mate and some crew members!!  But not only big enough, but held together by the love glue that says, “We are in this as if we were one person. We will reach the treasure of our heart.  He waits at the slip where we will dock, all of us; He waits with open arms.”