Independence Day has a special place in my heart. Our first son was born a couple of weeks after the Bicentennial celebration when Boston Harbor was host to a Tall Ships Regatta. Two years later, on the 4th of July, I escaped a humid New England heat wave in a cool dark theatre to see Jaws II. Sheriff Brody nailed the shark at the same moment of my first labor contraction. I dilated while the doctor prattled on about great white sharks’ breeding and territorial habits. It’s quite possible that I clenched my teeth and cursed Jaws when Randy finally slipped the umbilical dock line.
Today’s news includes a Rhode Island fisherman whose Boston Whaler glided over the top of a Beluga Whale that he mistook for a great white. Realizing that the two ton leviathan lacked a shark’s telltale dorsal fin, sported a distinctive round forehead and a beguiling grin, he still exclaimed, “I need a bigger boat!”
But, sometimes we don’t need a bigger boat. It’s summer. Narragansett Bay is full of tourists, seals, boats and the occasional great white shark. The winner of the Newport to Bermuda sailboat race made the trip in a little over two and a half days in a big, expensive boat. Kayakers – little boats with paddles – have taken control of the Narrow River to the extent that big boats – those between 13 and 20 feet with gas engines – are getting stuck on the sand bars. Hurricane Arthur is dumping a boat load of rain on today’s 4th of July celebrations – making for gurgling parade tubas and snuffed out fireworks. Right now it doesn’t matter the size of your boat – everyone is stuck in port as the winds howl and rains pummel the topsides. What really counts about boats is having the freedom to decide who’s on board and where you’re going to sail off to – together. Flying the stars and stripes off the stern reminds us how much we value our independence as we all pursue life, liberty, and happiness (even if that means a bigger boat).