WATERLINE: Of Fathers, Sons and Boats by Joe Soucheray

WATERLINE: Of Fathers, Sons and Boats

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A tender, lyrical memoir by Minnesotan journalist and radio talk-show host Soucheray--who's writing here about his almost Sisyphean struggle to restore an antique 17-foot motorboat, and the thoughts this project stirs up about fathers and families. Soucheray was raised on water, in a family of boaters. So it's no less than destiny when, in July 1984, he purchases a ragged 50-year-old Chris Craft and sets about restoring it. His wife has her doubts--in fact, all the family women think it crazy, while all the men cheer him on. Soucheray's dad (""Bud"") helps out with advice and photos of the boat he himself once owned. Between father and son, it's more than a project: ""boats were our emotion."" As the restoration continues, with the help of a wily retired woodworker, the author swims in ""the lovely blue mirror of memory,"" and resolves to locate Bud's long-lost Chris Craft utility. Miraculously, he does--but after hauling it home, he finds ""the soul had gone out of that boat."" Not so his own project, which he completes in time to enter in an antique-boat show and cop two awards. A year later, Bud dies of heart failure; the boat remains, and when the author runs his hand along the varnished wood, he feels ""the touching of our hands, mine and Bud's, down through the years, in boats."" Soucheray conveys genuine nostalgia without a hint of bathos, an admirable accomplishment. There's too much boating trivia here to interest total landlubbers, but those with a nose for spray and an ear for gracious writing will come away pleased.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1989
ISBN: 1567922147
Publisher: Harper & Row