Thursday, March 20, 2008

I sank a ship, on purpose.

Technically, I didn’t sink it. But I was a part of the sinking. Actually, it was one of those memorable high school stunts. Yes, we did it on purpose. The US Coast Guard was not involved. The US Navy did not authorize the sinking for coral reef purposes. No, no one drowned or was injured. Except for some fall out that would happen a few weeks later. I’ll get to that.
The time frame is about 1974. I’m in high school in West Springfield, Virginia. I’ve got a group of friend’s and we are getting more and more freedom from our parents. I think they even knew we “were going sailing”. The place is Lake Accotink, in Fairfax Virginia. Not too far from Mount Vernon. Calling it a ship is probably more than a stretch also. A friend had this two person sailboat. We called them two MAN boats then. He could get a friend and we’d lift it onto the top of his car, tie it down and go to the lake. The boat is two plastic pieces, called a “top” and “bottom” glued together. You had two places to sit, a rudder to attach, a mast and single sail. I remember it was this tan, UV decomposing plastic. But it still floated. We had no intention of actually sailing it. One of my best friends just happened to be a rebel, and the senior photographer for the school news paper. Well, maybe we all were rebels, but it was in a fun kind of way. Unless it involved throwing trash or shaving cream. Another day, another mess. Some of my other friends had been kicked out of some snooty high school glee club. Some friends hadn’t been allowed to join some other club. Remember, this is 1974. Way before it was politically correct to let any one in any club or organization they want. We decide to seek revenge. We formed our own club. We named it. Somehow, someone convinced a teacher that we were for real and they agreed to sponsor us, making us official and legitimate. Or so they thought. Some weeks later, I know they regretted that. I don’t think they got fired. With a sponsor, that meant we were a for REAL club. We called it the Boating And Sailing Boat Club. Yes, boat is referred to twice. Isn’t that the point? Besides, we could then refer to it as the BS Boat Club, which still rang of some civility. Our fearless photographer, then placed a two line announcement in the paper, which was published every week or so. The announcement simply stated that a boating and sailing club had formed and that teacher X was our sponsor. We prayed that no one else would actually want to join. Placing this in the newspaper, would give us some legitimacy, as if we cared. So on the appointed Saturday, the eleven of us join up, pick each other up and arrive at the home of the boat owner. We are loaded for fun. We have rubber gorilla masks, we have scuba gear. One guy, his dad was some naval officer and he swiped one of his old Officer hats. We had a corn-cob pipe for that General McArthur look. We had swim fins and flippers, floats, water-wings, beach balls, volley balls, paddles and oars, fishing poles and tackle. I think we even had some spears. We hoped that in mass, we had the balls to go thru with this. We caravan over to Lake Accotink. I don’t recall any issues with transporting to the lake. I think I’d remember if we received any infractions from the local constable. Upon arrival at the lake, we find a secluded place to park. We unload the ship, don our get ups and proceed to push the boat into about 2 feet of water. We then all piled on, which immediately sunk the ship. We proceeded to strike various poses. Such as, the General Washington crossing the Delaware, but with a gorilla in the background, pose. Sailors fighting for Truth, Justice and the American way pose, with a gorilla in the background. The Joe Cool High School Stud pose, with a gorilla in the background. Our resident photographer shot up some photos. After a bit, one of our more ambitious team members decides that there has to be a photo to make the be-all, end-all statement. He turns and drops his pants and moons. Photo duly recorded of his posterior, for prosperity. We then drag the poor ship back to land. We were all surprised when the plastic hull popped back into shape. The owner was disappointed, as he’d hope to abandon it at the park. We dry off and head back to sanity.

Stay tuned for Part 2. The BS Boating club meets its maker.

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