Taking cover

It was a pleasant enough day when a friend and I took a new-to-me 14’ runabout down the Providence River from the neighborhood of Riverside in East Providence. At 16 years old we were venturing into the “vast open water” of Narragansett Bay south of Conimicut Light headed for Patience and Prudence islands. About halfway to the islands it was getting much rougher, and we chickened out. We turned around and discovered the whitecaps that we didn’t see when running with the sea and wind. It was pretty rough, and we were getting soaked with each wave. I was afraid to go fast, so we really plowed through the seaway. There was a blanket we’d brought for the beach, so we held it against the windshield over our heads like a convertible top. This kept the water from pouring over the windshield onto our heads. It was a long, slow slug into a “wind-over-tide” situation and, needless to say, the visibility out of the windshield without wipers was pretty poor – so I followed my Boy Scout compass. Our progress was exceptionally slow, and it seemed to be taking forever to see Conimicut light. Suddenly, to our shock and surprise, the blanket was lifted off and a man in waders was peering into our cockpit. “Boys, you’re on the Conimicut sand bar,” he said, “and have been for 15 minutes. You should pass the light on the other side!” So much for navigating by compass. Lesson learned: If you can’t keep a sharp lookout, then for God’s sake, at least look out once in a while!

Jim McGuire

East Greenwich, R.I.

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