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Boats, Brothers, Bananas - A Memory of the North Country

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Boats, Brothers, Bananas - A Memory of the North Country

Kiel Gregory

My best friend in high school introduced me to sailing. We took lessons in Henderson Harbor for a number of years. It was a lot of fun; we met many rich retired couples, and crewed on quite a few yachts for summer money.

We also played in a stage band together during the regular school year, and that carried on into our spare time after our studies. We would play locally for grad parties, birthdays…that sort of thing. We spent almost every hour of every day together. Lots of people thought we were brothers.

One day, during a particularly nasty week in spring, my friend took his sailboat out onto Lake Ontario by himself and didn’t tell anyone. We wouldn’t worry about getting lost out on the water because we would plan for this kind of thing. A banana and a bottle of fresh water: that’s what we would bring. Bananas make for good sustenance, and you definitely didn’t want to drink the lake water!

He was missing for three days. His family was told by local authorities that his chances of survival were slim at best. I wasn’t worried. I knew he could make it. His mother, father, and younger brother spent the days and nights out on the flat rock, waiting for him to come home. No sign of him for three days.

After all hope was lost, and the police, ambulance squads, and television crews went home, I decided, as his best friend, to pay the family a visit. I drove out to their house, parked, and took off my shoes. I walked barefoot down to the flat rock to where his mother sat all alone. Her eyes were puffy and she was shivering. It had rained earlier, and the temperature dropped significantly that evening. We sat in silence for about an hour.

Just as I was about to leave, I saw a white protrusion swaying in the chop about three hundred meters off shore. I stood slowly and tugged at his mother’s shirt. When she looked up at me, I pointed to the white protrusion. It was following the fast waves toward shore and approached quickly. His mother jumped into the water and met her son who was sitting on top of the capsized two-man sailboat. He had visibly lost a few pounds, and he looked tired, but he was alive. I wasn’t worried; we’d planned for this kind of thing.

Just as I was about to leave, I saw a white protrusion swaying in the chop about three hundred meters off shore. I stood slowly and tugged at his mother’s shirt. When she looked up at me, I pointed to the white protrusion. It was following the fast waves toward shore and approached quickly. His mother jumped into the water and met her son who was sitting on top of the capsized two-man sailboat. He had visibly lost a few pounds, and he looked tired, but he was alive. I wasn’t worried; we’d planned for this kind of thing.

It was an empty water bottle with a banana peel inside.