At a summer camp at 13, after way too many attempts to bring myself above two water skis, I finally got the hang of it. That is all I remember from the Alabama, camp experience. When I was about 15 at home in Miami, FL, I followed up on that wonderful distraction.
With the small powerboat my father purchased, splitting the cost with him, I tried to ski with an experienced driver, a school friend, at the helm. I got the picture. I drove while he skied. It started one of the most joyous aspects of my adolescence.
The ideal was to ski in about 70 degrees emerging from reasonably warm water. That standard included a mirror-smooth Biscayne Bay. With the sun shining off my unscreened body (Who knew from sunscreen?), I would surge out of the water with the initial torque from a 35 horsepower Kiekhaefer, outboard engine. That outboard company had emerged in 1939 and produced, in my mind, the fastest per horsepower engines available at a reasonable price in 1960.
Once on my feet, I skied with a slalom or single ski. I had actually made it in shop at school. I was basically a hopeless craftsman, but I loved the sport so much I had the patience to create a reasonably good ski. I still don’t know how I did that. It seems like one of the accidents of my youth by God’s grace.
The joy came from the warmth of the sun, my sharp turns and my vaults over the boat’s wake. To the non-skier, it may sound mundane. But, to me, it was a major distraction from the emotional angst of getting through adolescence. Thank God for that unforgettable experience.