I am always on the prowl for scow sailors to share knowledge about our flat-bottom racing boats. So, you can imagine my enthusiasm when one of the winning-est competitive sailors on the Potomac informed me that there was a “Scow Ball.” As if that wasn’t enough, my good friend also asked if Karen and I would be kind enough to share a table with him and his sailing companion at the “Scow Ball.”
A word about my host. Bill Davenport has treated me like a little brother ever since Karen and I were fortunate enough to obtain a dry slip next to his yacht, Runneth Over. Bill occasionally sends me on errands which I dutifully fulfill. He also flatters me with pointy barbs and general emasculation. All this I endure as fair rent for the good fortune of parking my boat near my celebrity neighbor.
My chore on the evening of the Scow Ball, Nov. 17, was to secure a “good table” in the midst of things and not too far from libations so that Bill could be certain of a good seat AND still have the advantage of arriving fashionably late. Since I know Bill to be a fine starter in competition, one might assume this was all part of his “competitive plan” for the evening. The ball was held at the Old Dominion Yacht Club in Old Town Alexandria. Chinese lanterns hung overhead, our table was filled with some of the most fun-loving sailors I have every met. When Bill arrived, he hit the line at full speed with Claire looking very smart as they combed the room, visiting and joking with others at the Scow Ball.
Karen and I took this as our cue to start circulating and we immediately began discussing scows with everyone who would talk with us. Over and over, the conversation went something like this: “Hi, I’m Stew, this is Karen. So, you sail a scow?” We met quite a few scow sailors in this way. Some told us that their scow had been around since before 1960, which is an old scow indeed. Others informed me that their scow was the most social club in Washington DC. Fantastic, I thought. I should attempt this in my boat. Then, we met a young man, whom I later learned, was the new “Commodore of Scow.” He probably has the biggest boat of all because he informed me that there were more than 400 sailors in his “scow.”
I also learned that many of these sailors hold Bill in high esteem. All of them, without exception, said he was probably the finest sailor on the Potomac and that they had learned a great deal from him over the years. All of them also requested that I keep this compliment secret from Bill, as they didn’t want him to know anything they said about him. I assured every one of these sailors that their secret was safe with Karen…
Back at the table, I told Bill and Claire how happy I was to be among so many very kindly scow sailors, all of whom admire Bill, and that I had indeed learned so much about scows that I could not wait to publish everything right here on scowsailing.com. Bill and Claire seemed impressed that we had done this research and congratulated us on our initiative. And then, as a reward, they entertained us by applying spoons to Bill’s forehead. I assumed this was a scow tradition and will be sure to perform the ritual myself at the next scow meeting.
But after a few hours, and some delicious salmon, Karen and I decided to take our leave. We gathered our wraps and headed for the door. Our last sighting of Bill and Claire was of these two sailing buddies on the dance floor, grooving to oldies rock and roll, with a roomful of swinging scow sailors.
It was a beautiful evening…All kidding aside, I want to spend more time with this wonderful group of people. Bill…I owe you.