Until I moved to Portland, I’d always been part of a crew.
In high school my crew consisted of four skateboarders known as Team Bruce. Sure, we loved skateboarding; but we also got together to see punk rock shows, laze about on hot summer afternoons, and go to the movies and throw popcorn at the screen.
A few years later I was one of the surfers in the Black’s Morning Crew. We were a graffiti artist, a couple of science post-docs, and two ecology undergraduates, all drawn together by our love of the sea. Almost every morning found us running into each other on the steep path to the shore, stumbling in the dark, each trying to be first down that cliff to Black’s Beach and into the water before the sun rose.
Life was fine when I moved to Portland, but something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was until I found myself in a crew once more. The Willamette River Crew coalesced around a handful of water loving gentlemen who, aside from me, all have names that rhyme with “swim.” (Much as I like and recognize them as individuals, I can’t stop myself from calling them by the wrong names sometimes. Sorry guys…)
There’s Jim, who I knew before I knew him. You see, for several months I borrowed a green Oswego Boat from a friend who acquired it from someone who lives up river, a guy who likes to fix up old wooden boats and resell them. When I finally met Jim last year, we got to talking about our boats, past and present; sure enough, the subject of one green rowing craft without enough freeboard came up…Then there’s Tim, a professional boat builder going through salt water withdrawal. He’s also a serial boat owner, who likes to buy them and try them just because he wants to know how they sail. He’s a passionate reader, especially of nautical books, and I have to work hard to find something he hasn’t already read. His purgatory is to sail around the Willamette and Columbia with me and the last man in our crew, Kim.
Kim has sailed big boats, little boats, and all sorts of work boats for scientific research. He’s always coming up with devices to make boating more interesting. Besides his golf bag boat dolly, he recently unveiled a bamboo light holder and a giant umbrella sail for his row boat. (Kim is also desperate for a sail and oar boat- if you have one for sale, contact me.) What I like best about Kim is that he seldom stops smiling.The season is young and the crew is keeping me motivated. I don’t find myself alone on the river much these days.