My introduction to Saint John was over 40 years ago when I was transferred to Saint John by IBM. Within a couple years I decided that if you live on the water you might as well enjoy it, get your feet wet so to speak, so I bought a sailboat.
Keeping the boat in the Saint John River during the summer months and sliding down the coast to Back bay for the winter months had become a tradition for me.
Late one cold November day many many years ago I had crossed Grand Bay and headed down the Saint John River for my annual migration to Bay Back. Just before I reached the Reversing Falls my engine died, not good. I had a tender in tow with an old 5.5 hp Johnson so I strapped the tender to the side of BRIGHT STAR, fired up the Johnson and limped into the Saint John Power Boat Club. One of the regulars, Doug Hickman who at the time owned a schooner was there to help me tie up. I told him I would only be there long enough to get my engine going and I would continue down the coast. Doug’s reply was it’s getting late in the season, that it was cold and why don’t you stay here for the winter? The more I thought about his suggestion the better it sounded.I now believe that Doug was just trying to increase the sailboat population in a club dominated by powerboats.
Shortly after that unplanned visit I became a member of the Saint John Power Boat Club and I’ve been there ever since. The SJPBC is what i would call a “working mans” club. There’s no shortage of “sailboats are better than powerboats” banter by those of us in the minority. None the less if you’re working on anything on your boat from stem to stern there’s always someone with a tool, a part, a hand or advise to make the job a little easier.
Over the years I had got to know one of the long time members Larry McGrath and his dog McDuff. On many days as I made my way to my boat at the end of the dock I would see Larry sitting in his chair on his boat, MY SUNSHINE. I would ask: “How’s it going Larry”? The reply was always pretty much the same;” Oh, able to sit up and take fluids”
Summer evenings as Kim and I sat on deck having a beer and BBQing we would see Larry and McDuff slowly making their way down the dock to his car in the parking lot. It never failed McDuff the dog would have to take his time and “mark” his territory just out side the gate. Larry not always the most patient person could be overhead saying ” Damn it McDuff, come on…..Get in the car!” The dog in his own good time would eventually waddle over and climb up into the car. McDuff was never in much of a hurry because he realized Larry’s bark was much worse that his bite.
Larry died this week, We are going to miss seeing My Sunshine anchored in Keith’s Cove on sunny summer weekends and I will missing hearing Larry’s frequent call; “Damn it McDuff get in the car!”