One of the best things about living at the Bay Shores trailer park was location on the back bay just beyond the old Coast Highway bridge on the west shoreline below the scrubby bluffs overlooking Newport Beach. We had our own private beach there and while most of the year it was a cold and murky place, in the summer it came to life. I think I was seventeen the summer I spent my free time sailing in a boat we called the hydra sail. It was an over sized surf board with a small place inside for at most two people and a tall single mast with a sail area just a bit more than the boat could handle. I had experience though since Dave a park buddy had trained me just how to handle small sailboats.
I had spent many a windy afternoon learning just how to handle this boat and the wind in the central part of the bay, playing tag with Hobie Cats, racing and just cruising the water’s edge looking at the lives of the rich and famous. All these trips took me past John Wayne’s home for instance and all the homes were something to see. In my two years sailing this boat I only flipped it once, and that was while I was distracted by a pretty girl; a Pamela Anderson look alike in a custom boat much more expensive, but similar to mine. I made a fool of myself but have no regrets.
I did take one memorable trip. Back in the day I was mighty casual about just what I might try and do in the boat. This day I would be gone six hours, I did not bring water, and my life jacket was a pad with straps. I had on only a swimsuit and some sunglasses. Not even a hat. The wind had not built up yet when I left and it would take a while just to reach the ocean through the jetties. At one point a gaggle of children swam out and grabbed my boat, doing so brings it to a stop and we all laugh about it until the next boat comes along and they let me continue. I cruise past the car ferries and the Fun Zone on the Balboa Peninsula until I can tack out of the harbor between the jetties. I decide to head North towards the balboa Pier and I veer towards the shoreline just beyond the wedge so I can play with the waves as I sail up the coast.
Now it must be said here that most small boats of this type do not head into the ocean alone, with a lone sailor even if the sea is full of boats. It was reckless, but at an age where one tests ones limits I just did it any way.
I soon sailed maybe a half mile, and the shore break was turning into waves that could wash over me if I was caught unawares. I was dealing with that reality when a small girl maybe ten years of age screamed at me “give me a ride”, not thinking too much I say “sure” and go in, pick the little child up and head out to just beyond waves. She is excited as all get out and I have her for a couple minutes before I turn around and bring her to where we started. Looking towards the beach now I notice a group of excited people, the child’s parents no doubt, panicked at the thought of their baby in another’s hands. The girl was having none of that and was beaming when I let her jump out of the boat back towards the beach. I said goodbye and high tailed it out of there before somebody called the Coastguard. Of course this was before cell phones, and the phrase child abduction had not been coined yet. I remember the event because while I have spent years at the beach I have never seen anybody sail up and give a kid a ride on a boat the way I did. I feel if this girl read this story today she would remember and know it was she that got that ride that lucky day.
I did something I should not have and a little girl got a memory of a lifetime.