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Fay's Beach Buzz             

Floundering on the high seas

© 2009 Fay Jacobs

Fay Jacobs

"You can't swing a cat in Rehoboth without hitting a lesbian."

So true. The quote came from a group of gay gals laughing it up along Baltimore Avenue last week in the incredible sunshine and heat. April? Town was packed!

And as one of those in danger of being smacked in the head with a flying feline, it's just great to see the weather change for the good here in Gayberry RFD. Of course, I don't know what the weather is now as you read this, but considering this is Delaware, sizzling April could easily turn into monsoon May.

But that taste of summer wasn't wasted on me. The heck with April in Paris, it was gorgeous in Rehoboth.

Having been cooped up most of the winter, nose to the computer keyboard, I immediately put the convertible top down on my car and drove around town like a tourist. Upon my return to the house I flung open the windows and luxuriated in the fresh scent of cherry tree flowers and blooming plants.

What was I thinking? After one night's sleep with open windows, I had two pounds of pollen packed in my sinus cavities and another bushel blanketing every surface in the house. I'm sniffling and snorting and worried I won't know if I've got allergies or swine flu.

Then, like fools we went to the nursery for annual replacement plants. I don't know why we don't just stick plastic palms in the planters. If all the dollar bills I spend each spring replacing dead stuff were laid end to end they'd reach to the condominium I should be living in. We were toting plants sentenced to death to a car covered in pollen, for an area out back that is basically a dog latrine. Tomorrow we'll go out and plant the greenery on death row, I mean the backyard. Ahchoo!

A glutton for punishment as well as boating, Bonnie and I then accepted an invitation for a day on Rehoboth Bay, fishing. Okay, I've never been a fisherperson. I know you are shocked.

Much to my delight, the generous Captain and First Mate surprised me with my very own fishing rod - and reel, and line and little squiggly hangy-off things. And the fishing pole was pink, with teeny sparkly lights that blinked whenever the reel spun. "I couldn't resist," said the Captain. I was lucky it wasn't a Hannah Montana edition.

Seriously, I loved that I had my own sport fishing gear and we set out across the Bay to find seafood. After drifting for a while near the Indian River Bridge, me with my pink fishing pole dangling professionally from the side of the boat, the first mate landed a big flounder. Mission accomplished. We reeled in to go traveling.

This is where it got interesting.

On our way out of the Indian River Inlet and into the ocean, Bonnie and I sat up front on the speedy fishing boat. I may be a neophyte fisherperson, but I'm an experienced boater, having lived on and traveled in a 29ft. power boat all around the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays, up to New York City and Fire Island and back. The alternate title of my first book was going to be My Life as Ballast.

So imagine my surprise when, as we nosed out toward the ocean, what I can only describe as a mighty rogue wave swelled up in front of the boat and made my eyeballs switch sockets.
This gigantic wall of water rose in a colossal swell about, I don't know, a thousand feet higher than the boat deck. Okay, six feet overhead and five feet away. I channeled Shelly Winters, picturing that fierce wave crashing through the cockpit windows on the Poseidon. I marveled at the wave's enormity, its stark green expanse of color, with bubbling white foam on top. I gasped when I saw two more identical waves right behind it. I went into a momentary coma, broken only by the sound of somebody screaming. It was me.
With a giant crash, the wall of water hit the boat, the bow rose to conquer it and we thumped up, then down like a bathtub toy . Geeze it was scary, seeing all that dark water up close and wondering, omigod, is the nose of the boat going to come back up again?
If the bow didn't come back up it was called pitch-poling - "pitch·poled, pitch·pol·ing, pitch·poles Nautical. To flip or cause to flip end over end." I learned the term in Power Squadron boating class, or, as I used to call it, 101 Ways to Drown or Blow Up Your Boat. I know they wanted to frighten us into caution, but they scared the barnacles out of us - and I was flashing back to pitch-pole class. And of course it didn't help in the pitch-pole department that it was my lard-ass sitting up front as, once again, ballast.
Of course the bow came back up, but we got a thundering, frigid shower. It may have been 90 degrees out but the ocean didn't get the memo.

When we looked back at the captain, who was hollering a reassuring "We're okay, don't worry," the second wave pounded us, sending a fresh freezing tsunami into the boat, then a third. We got glacial facials and held an impromptu wet t-shirt contest.

Amazingly, as soon as the Captain turned left toward Dewey, the water went calm again.

Alrighty now. I was drenched, hoping it was all sea water and I hadn't peed myself. The Captain and First Mate were pretty wet, too. But Bonnie really got the worst of it. She was dripping wet from head to toe and I expected to see her wearing a flounder on her head.

Three of us sopped off with towels, but Bonnie was undryable. She shed her shorts and shirt, wrapped up in a towel and noted it would be an inopportune time to be stopped by pirates vacationing from Somali. We laughed and hooted and hollered. Lucky for me, my Disney fishing pole survived the incident.
Really, we were freezing our frames but the sun shone, dolphins swam by, we cruised past the Towers at North Shores and waved to the crowd. How lucky to be invited for a wonderful cruise in the sunshine. The season had begun and all was right with the world. (ACTION!)
Now I'm off to close up the house, fire up the A/C and over-water the plants.
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Fay Jacobs, a native New Yorker, spent 30 years in the Washington, DC area working in journalism, theater and public relations. She has contributed feature stories and columns to such publications as The Advocate, OUTtraveler, The Baltimore Sun, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, The Washington Blade, The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware Beach Life and more.

Since 1995 she has been a regular columnist for Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, and won the national 1997 Vice Versa Award for excellence. Her columns are collected in the books, As I Lay Frying: a Rehoboth Beach Memoir and the newly published Fried & True - Tales of Rehoboth Beach.

Fay is Publisher and Managing Editor of A&M Books, the publisher of the 14 classic Sarah Aldridge novels.

She and Bonnie, her partner of 25 years, relocated to Rehoboth Beach, DE in 1999. They have two Miniature Schnauzers and a riding lawn mower.

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