The Cotuit Civic Association Newsletter is one of my favorite junk mail periodicals, coming monthly on a single sheet with some news about goings-on in the village, garden club meetings, fire district elections, that sort of thing. The last issue asked people not to engage the Cotuit Kettleers in a water fight during the Fourth of July Parade because things apparently got out of control last year. Put a team’s worth of the nation’s best college baseball players on a big flatbed truck, arm them with big SuperSoakers and an endless supply of baseball-sized waterballoons, and drive them slowly down Main Street, and someone is sure to get an H20 fastball in the face.
As a spectator, there isn’t much one can do except take the splashing, smile, and protect the cameras. Nothing until last year, when one group decided to fight back and donned wet suits and Deadliest Catch Foul Weather gear and lined up on both sides of the street armed with multiple garden hoses. The truck driver had been bribed to stop in the middle of the gauntlet, and you can see the incident here, one of the few things that YouTube returns on a Cotuit keyword search.
This year the assault on the Kettleers commenced in front of my house, when my best friend — the dauntless Doctor Dan — and sailing buddy Don loaded up two industrial water guns and pulled a set of my daughter’s pantyhose over their heads. There was a pitched battle which lasted a minute of so, and culminated with the overturning of buckets of water on the physician’s and shortstop’s heads.
That was cute and the parade continued on, the giant Squirting Clam, the Aleppo Shriners on their little scooters, the tumbling gymnasts, the actors in the Cotuit Art Association’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream … and Milo the drummer in the back of a pickup truck. When the fire trucks roll by the fat lady has sung, and by 11:30 the streets were back to normal.
Today, Independence of the Nation aside, is the day of the first race of the Cotuit Mosquito Yacht Club. My youngest and I decided to race (I press-ganged him into compliance) on what turned out to be very windy conditions which necessitated a reef — a shortening of sail using reef points and line to reduce its area by about 20 percent. We rigged up, set out for the starting line, and did the usual pre-race drill of checking out the angle of the line to see which end was favored, and seeing how close to the wind the boat was going to point with the reef in. All was well, my son was grumpy to be out there under steel-grey skies with a 20 knot breeze, but I was full of false cheer and trash talk about how this was going to be our race, etc.
During the first gybe of the day, the tiller got stuck inside of the baggy cuffs of my shorts, causing me to muff the maneuver, nearly neuter myself, but cause the boat to capsize in slo-mo before the five minute warning horn could sound. Skiffs are nasty ugly boats when they tip over. They tip over like slow motion cows. They cannot be emptied unless they are on the beach and the second you turn over everything expensive starts to float away: rudder, tiller, boom crutch, bailer, sponges …… Fisher and I managed to corral the floating gear and I had to give the finger to one solicitous sailor who insincerely asked several times if we were “okay”. I took the line from the crash boat for the tow-of-shame into the beach.
Ten minutes later we were back in the race, but behind by a “horizon” so we bagged all pretense of competition, came back to the mooring, and as we lifted the float from the water the line parted, snapped, sinking to the bottom and leaving us with no alternative but to go ashore and anchor until tomorrow’s low tide when I will go out and find the chain with my toes.
I tip over about once a season, so here is to hoping that this was the first and last of the 2007 racing calendar.
Getting back to work tomorrow will not be easy. Mid-week holidays are strange and the Fourth of July is that one holiday they can’t conveniently reschedule to another date falling on a Monday the way it is done with Labor Day and Memorial Day. All hell is breaking out at work, so it’s time to get heads down and deal with the possibility of a trip to Bangalore on Sunday.