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Adventures with Captain Dennis

Yesterday, you were in the city. Today, you’re swimming in the sea and exploring deserted beaches. Thank you, Captain Dennis

JULIE GRAU

he water is, truly, aquamarine. The waves swell ahead of you, and the skiff you’re in rises and falls with them. The kids are huddled in their towels in the bow of the boat, squealing with terror and delight as the boat climbs, breaks the crest, and then powers through, on to the next one. The wind is whipping your hair around your face. The sun is sloping toward the horizon on your right. Close your eyes. You’re in a blissed-out state—merging with sea, light, air, motion. You crack an eye open and look toward the stern, and there is Captain Dennis, one hand on the motor, tall, regal, green eyes navigating, steady, strong. He is a part of this landscape. He’s got this.

Hours before, when the sun was just beginning its climb in the sky, the wind was soft, and the water sparkled, you and your crew clambered down to the beach and met the boat. Hugs all around for Dennis and his crew. You throw your gear on board with a smile. (You realize now that the smile hasn’t left your face all day.) You decide on the destination: the deserted beach with white sand.

The skiff in the morning slices through the water as you watch the dramatic rocky, green coastline speed by. The houses are perched precariously on cliffs above the churning sea. Dennis cuts the motor: he points toward ten o’clock. Dolphins arc through the surface of the water. Two, three, more, a baby and a mom. One with a notched dorsal fin—maybe the same one you saw last year?

About one hundred yards from the beach, Dennis cuts the motor again. A few of you jump off the side of the boat to swim to the shore. You hit the water and in that instant it’s complete: you’ve arrived. Yesterday you were in New York. Today you are swimming toward a deserted beach in clear blue water. You’ve exchanged your life for this dream. Everything that went with that other life has dispersed in the elements. How long have you been here? You’re here now—fully present.

You spend hours in and out of the water, on these white sands. Dennis lights a fire and cooks the food that his wife has prepared. It is exquisite—grilled fish with escabeche and festival. He tells you about the work he’s doing to protect these waters, to help sustain the fishing culture of Treasure Beach, where his family has lived for generations. He is an incomparably good man. He is humble, but revered. He’s your friend. He is one of the reasons you come back here, year after year, to see him, his family, all of your friends in Treasure Beach. He tells you, Walk good, the word is love. And you hold the words close and carry them with you, all the way back to your everyday life, until the next time you’re here, and he reminds you again, just when you need to hear it, the word is love.

—JULIE GRAU

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