Trust Lawyer Palos Verdesby Attorney Philip Kavesh

For many years, as I grew up, I loved going boating with my Dad. These were special times when I often got to enjoy his company all by myself (particularly before my three younger brothers started to tag along!).

We Discovered The River Wild

Dad's first boat was a light, fiberglass, 16-footer - - wildly overpowered with a 200 horsepower outboard engine! That was a big fishing advantage, because if Dad took off early from work at 3:00 in the afternoon we could race out to our favorite fishing spot, still get in a few hours and return before dark. Another advantage of that boat was its "walk-around" feature. The captain's seat and wheel didn't block the front (or "bow").  You could step around the edge of the entire boat and fish from anywhere, depending on what direction the current pulled your “line” and “sinker” or the fish swam away with your hook!

Our docking space (or "slip") was at the end of a small pier protruding out into the Maurice River (pronounced "Morris" by the South Jersey locals).  Little did we realize at first that, as my Dad liked to quote from some famous poem, "Time and tide wait for no man." We soon learned (the hard way) about the importance of knowing the timing of the river's tide changes.

One afternoon, we traveled upriver, fished there for a while, and planned to race back to the dock. We didn't notice that, behind us, the river had receded.  So, when we turned around and “floored the gas”, we literally became grounded on an invisible sandbar, just under the water's surface. Dad then got the not-so-great idea of leaping out of the boat to push us off.  Suddenly, he started to sink in the mud, which was like quicksand!  Horrified and panicked, I extended out a fishing pole so he could hopefully grab it.  I hadn’t quite thought this through, as I was much smaller than Dad (and the pole was only designed to hold small fish).  Somehow, miraculously, I was able to pull him back onto the boat (Thank Goodness!).  The first thing he said was, “Don’t ever tell your Mother about this!”

So, we got a little smarter and we started consulting the tide charts before we left the dock.  Yet, another river challenge soon presented itself. You see, we loved to milk every moment of fishing opportunity out of the day. We would fish until the first few moments of dusk and then dash back to the dock just before complete darkness and navigation blackout (we only had a large handheld flashlight!).  What we didn’t realize was that dusk was actually sunrise for certain “critters” hell-bent on attacking us!  As we started to return to our dock, we noticed a big black cloud on the horizon appearing above the nearby marshes. We thought it was a rain cloud and we would be able to outrun it. But, instead, it turned out to be a giant swarm of hungry mosquitos!  No amount of repellant was able to protect us that day!

So Instead, We Decided to Take on an Even Greater Challenge - - Ocean Fishing!

I don't know if it was those fiercely attacking hungry mosquitos who convinced Dad to leave the river, but we moved our boat nearer to the ocean, on the "back bay" of Ventnor (near Atlantic City, NJ). We thought we would successfully employ the same fishing techniques we had honed on the river. But we soon found out that ocean fishing was a whole lot different.

First, due to the waves and depth of the water, we had to use heavier rods, reels, lines and sinkers. The first time we ventured into the mouth of the bay (where it opened to the Atlantic Ocean), we realized that handling this new equipment wasn't so easy. I placed one of the rods, whose line was in the water, into a "pole holder" on the boat, so I could help Dad reach over the side and pull up the bait can.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t put the rod deep enough in the holder to properly secure it and apparently a fish grabbed the hook and yanked the “pole” right off the boat!  Boy, was I in trouble.  Dad's prized, brand-new pole and riggings were lost! I thought I'd never live this down, that is until a seemingly miraculous event occurred.  We left the spot where I had lost the pole, then returned several hours later. I immediately had what we both thought was a giant of a fish on the line since my pole was bent so far over it was about to break.  I couldn't reel it in alone so we both did it together - - and, as we pulled in the end of the line, there came up attached to it the lost pole!  After a spritzing of clean water, it was as good as new (phew!).

Well, after that incident (and a whole bunch of others, like trying to fish in a “squall” or mini-cyclone on the water), we somehow settled into becoming master ocean fisherman (or so our braggadocio fishing stories would indicate!).  Dad loved to target shallow spots close to shore (where the much-sought-after flounder, a delicious cousin of our Pacific halibut, was reputed to "school"). If we didn't catch a fish in 15 to 20 minutes at one spot, we pulled up the lines and rushed off to another.  This manic fish-hunting behavior often continued for several head-spinning hours!  One day we were at our intended last stop and nothing was happening - - despite Dad’s theory that we should place three hooks on each line ("because it increases our chances!").  Frustrated, he announced we were heading home since we hadn't seen a nibble, not even a little movement of our poles. So, he started the engine and instructed me to pull in all three of our lines.  When I pulled the first one in, it had caught on it three flounders, one on each hook!  I then pulled the second line in and the same thing, three more fish!  And when I pulled the third one in, you guessed it, there were three more flounders for a total of nine caught at one time! Well, needless to say, we decided to stick around a little while more to fish - - and wound up with our record haul to date, 22 fish in 45 minutes!  From that day on, this location became our "super-secret" fishing spot (and we almost always caught fish there)!

Unexpected Man-Made Perils

Things seemed to go along smoothly from there, until we ran into a few "gaffes" which, frankly and unfortunately, were of our own making.

Dad was a terrible chain smoker.  One day, we were speeding along, and Dad wanted to light up another cigarette, but the wind kept blowing it out. So, while relentlessly heading hell-bent at high speed to the next fishing spot, Dad ducked down, momentarily, below the deck to light his smoke.  And in seconds, the boat hit something, literally jumped out of the water with the engine's propeller screaming in mid-air - - and we crashed landed on a tiny island!  We were stuck and, based on our past experience, there was no way either of us was going to jump out to push us off!  So we had no alternative other than to sit there for a couple of hours until the ocean tide rose up (while having to listen on the radio and be tortured by yet another terrible loss by our last place Phillies!).  I think it was shortly after this incident that my Dad finally quit smoking!

Another self-made, near catastrophe occurred when one day Dad gave my youngest brother, who hadn't gone fishing with us before, “casting” lessons.  Dad showed my brother how to whip the pole backward and then quickly flick it toward the water so the line would land far from the boat. But Dad overlooked an important safety warning - - don't throw your line backward (with a hook on its end) until you first check whether someone is standing behind you!  Later that day, my brother excitedly threw his line back, tossed it forward and grabbed my Dad's nose with his hook so hard that the hook went up into my poor Dad's right nostril protruding out of his nose!  We all went into a frenzy, since no one had any idea of how to get the hook out of his nose safely. I reacted without much thinking, I quickly started the engine, steered us toward the nearest pier and docked the boat. Fortunately, another angler had just the right tool to remove the hook!  “Thanks” said Dad to the mystery man who retorted, “Don’t thank me, thank your son.  Look at what he did!”  Only then did he realize that I had not only docked the boat by myself for the very first time, but I had perfectly “parallel parked” it between two other boats on a windy day!  Docking was something my father had such difficulty doing that, unbeknownst to him (and, of course, I would never tell him), all his slip neighbors referred to him as “Captain Crunch”!  The bottom line was that, instead of being upset about the whole nose-hooking mishap, Dad suddenly was very pleased with the outcome! (In fact, from then on I became his “captain’s mate” in charge of docking the boat!)

I could go on and on about all the crazy things that happened to me and my Dad while boating over many years.  But, frankly, the main and best thing I remember was just the time we had together, "shooting the breeze", listening to the radio and just hanging out.  Which takes me to my conclusion.

The Best Legacy

Of course, as an estate planner, I always stress the importance of passing along your lifetime's hard work in the most appropriate manner to those you love. That can make a big difference in the quality of their lives, for several generations.  But, honestly, the legacy that will be much more appreciated living trust attorney torranceby your loved ones are the memories you leave of your times together. So I implore you - - get off the couch, get out there, and enjoy some fun and adventure with your loved ones! That personal time with them will wind up being the best legacy of all.

(This is a photo of Dad, a die-hard Eagles fan, at the helm, teaching my son how to navigate!)

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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