One of my favorite childhood memories is learning to waterski behind my uncle’s speedboat when I was about 12 years old. It was in a cove off McCorrie Lane in Portsmouth. Most of my cousins were already expert waterskiers by then. So I worried I would look foolish trying it out for the first time. But with a little patience and encouragement from my uncle – who wasn’t known for being patient and encouraging – I got up on the skis; I absolutely loved the experience of speeding across the water with the wind blowing through my long hair. Soon enough, I felt confident enough to dart back and forth across the boat’s wake; I even tried to get airborne as I jumped the waves.
After that great day, I couldn’t wait to do it again. So a month or so later we made a return trip to Portsmouth for another waterskiing lesson, and this time my uncle encouraged me to try to ski on just one ski instead of two. I tried and tried to get up on one ski, but it takes strength to start on one ski and I was a scrawny kid and didn’t have the strength to pull myself up. I did succeed, however, in getting up on two skis and then kicking one ski off several times, only to lose my balance and fall and tumble across the water after just a few seconds. Still, I felt good about giving it a try on only my second day on waterskis.
It was more than 10 years before I waterskied again, and I haven’t done so in more than 30 years. But those two days learning to waterski off Portsmouth are memories I still talk about to this day whenever I get together with my cousins. They’re still my favorite memories of being on – and in – Narragansett Bay.