"This boat is my therapy," he said time and time again. You see, my father spent decades on the water, sneaking off to Annapolis every chance he got (much to my mother's dismay). Through a son's death, a wife's cancer, and his own medical problems, he used his beloved boat to escape and recharge.
When he died, he left me with a 40-foot 1981 Catalina, fully burdened with a leaking bilge pump, old navigation equipment, and broken lights. My initial thought was, "Now I gotta sell this thing." That was until my friend took me out on the boat to spread my father's ashes. It was a gorgeous day. I felt the misty breeze, the sun on my face and, suddenly and dramatically, everything changed.
I soon moved the boat to a harbor near my home in Philadelphia and spent five months learning how to dock a 40-footer on my own, taking countless friends out, crashing into the dock several times, going for sunrise cruises, running her aground on more than one occasion, and spending every minute thinking of my dad.
Those five months were expensive, stressful, and … wonderful. They taught me a new way to connect with people I have and people I've lost. I learned I can creatively conquer new challenges if I remember one thing: I am my father's daughter. Upon reflection, I've come to realize that this boat has become my therapy, too.