Some people are just meant to be on, near, or in the water. Or they are actively fish. I happen to be one of those non-fish, but still exceptionally water-centric people. I get twitchy if I’m more than 45 minutes from the ocean, despite repeated warnings from Hollywood disaster movies that make it clear that only people from the middest of the Midwest will survive various earthquakes, asteroid strikes, tidal waves, or gradual sea-level rises caused confusingly but probably plausibly by global warming in the course of a two-hour film. Doesn’t matter, I like being near the coast. It only stands to reason that I’d tackle the “Boating” badge as soon as oceanly possible, with the help of my partner, who I am calling “Mister J,” and who not only introduced me to Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye comic (see above), but also recently listened to a long-ass audiobook about naval history and decided we should visit Battleship Cove in Fall River, Mass.
Home to the USS Massachusetts, or “Big Mamie,” a WWII-era battleship and now the namesake of a mediocre Narragansett beer, I’d been once before to the national maritime park and museum as a sparky five-year-old chilling with my grandparents. Upon my memories, it was clearly the perfect place to, as directed by my badge book, “be an old salt” as I recalled the rules of the slightly wetter road and brushed up on my high-seas manners. I also feel I could have earned the “Wedging My Giant Ass into Tiny Spaces” and “Climbing Really Narrow and Steep Staircases That Are Probably More Accurately Described as Ladders” badges, but I’ll settle for the all-purpose Boating one.
For starters, the Boating badge requirements recommend learning a few sea chanties, story-songs traded by sailors for entertainment. There are many options, but really only two are necessary and I will brook no arguments on this point. And frankly, everyone should be glad I didn’t just watch Jaws and call it a day on earning the badge.
With a song in my heart and some extra Motrin coursing through my old-ass musculoskeletal system, I set my cell phone to 24-hour nautical time (that was really a requirement) and proceeded to explore the ships moored at Battleship Cove. And really, this shit was a blast. We charted our course from bow to stern of a destroyer, battleship, and submarine, delving into brigs, galleys, and captains’ quarters. As requested by the GSUSA circa 1983, I ensured that the ships stayed away from swimmers, divers, and people fishing; spotted buoys (there was one down the street at another museum); and treated the water habitat with care. I also verified that at no point was Mister J seasick, hypothermic, not breathing, or inflicted with a sunburn of any stripe. Successful at sailing, I am, despite the fact that these ships all appeared to have been powered by gas, steam, or something else other than wind.
Such boat, much sail. Is the Boating badge entirely earned yet? Not quite, as I need to find a personal flotation device, but SOON. I still recommend a trip to Battleship Cove, whether you’re a boat enthusiast, a child, or a peculiar adult like me.