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Boating Lessons

We’ve been asking the readers of Soundings to share their stories about the people who introduced them to boating, and we continue to receive great responses. Recently, Scott Eidman told us about his early experiences on the water.

“My love of boating was inspired by my father, Roy,” says Scott. “He had polio as a child, and as a result of his disability he was never able to drive a car. So, when he started dating my mother, Norma, they bought a rowboat, even though they didn’t know how to swim. How my grandparents allowed this is beyond me.”

Later, the couple upgraded to a new Chris-Craft runabout, which they kept at a marina near their home in Brooklyn, New York. Neither Roy nor Norma had a driver’s license at the time, so they’d pack up a cooler and take a city bus to the marina, where Eidman’s mother did most of the heavy lifting. “Dad was unable to pull the rip cord on the outboard, so he made a kick-starter out of a cable and pulley that he would stomp on to start the motor.”

The couple eventually sold that boat when the time came to raise their family, but their love of the water never waned. In 1970, Eidman’s parents opened a marina on New York’s Stony Point Bay. At the age of 12, Eidman became a combination dockmaster, boat rental guy and garbage collection agent. “Dad also bought a recently restored—and I use that word lightly—1929 Chris-Craft cabin cruiser,” he says. “The prior owner had removed the lower helm and added a flybridge, so all operations were up top. And that’s where I learned to operate a boat. My dad could not physically climb up to the bridge, but his presence there was known. From below, he’d constantly ask about the engine temperature, oil pressure and gas level. And I remember him encouraging me to ‘goose it’ when backing into a slip.”

That boat had a double-planked wood hull that was supposed to be soaking for a period prior to launch, but the Eidman family had no time for that. They just launched her. “We’d hope the bilge pumps would hold up if she sank,” says Eidman. “But we had a few close calls. One time a pump failed, so I quickly ran an electric line direct from the battery to keep it running. My dad was cool as a cucumber as the boat started to take on water. l felt his trust in me.”

Eidman’s father died in 2006. Norma died in April.

Today, Eidman continues to spend a lot of time on boats. He and his wife, Betsy, owned a 17-foot Sea Ray before trading up to a 23-foot Malibu ski boat. Then, they upgraded to a 2000 Nordic Tug 37, which they keep in a slip just south of the location where his parents ran their marina. “I keep a photo of my dad’s Chris-Craft tucked into the bezel of one of my radios to remind me to check the temperature, oil pressure and fuel. He would have loved this boat.” 

This article was originally published in the July 2022 issue.


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