The Ice Cave children ran for cover? It was like hiding at the police station. It was on the boat where a fisherman’s son got to know his father. For Sal, it had been a revelation. His first trip had started peacefully enough. It had been one of those blue, sparkling-water days in July, with calm seas and a fresh 15knot breeze that tilted the sailboats passing Cape Ann at a jaunty angle. Two days later on the Banks, a large storm center passed through. It wasn’t a bad one ~ 30 knots of breeze and a lot of rain ~ but to a boy of 11, it looked like the end of the world. It lasted four days. Sal was never sick. The men joked that his Visiglio blood was too full of salt to permit seasickness. But he was awed by the mountainous gray seas that extended in every direction as far as the eye could see, by the threatening look of the sooty, ragged-edged clouds that raced past like mad dogs. Hour after hour he had stood in the pilot house, his arms f lung around the binnacle for support, straining to see past the spray-lashed windows into the eternity of driving rain and whitecapped seas, watching the soaring birds playing in the spray f lung off the bow. He could scarcely believe his young eyes. He was even more awed by the realization that this was what his father did, that this was where he
spent his life. This bobbing steel boat, a mere chip at the mercy of the deep-mouthed sea was his office, his commuter train, his home. Sal was too old to believe in sea monsters, but he did know (he had heard his grandmother comforting his mother one night) that two boats had sunk beneath his father. His heart jumped to imagine the terror of it. Once it was fire. Fire at sea! That was the old wooden boat, his grandfather’s command. The second was his father’s first boat. They had lost the shaft with a full load of fish and had gone down in minutes. Both times, the lifeboat drill had worked. A nearby fishing vessel had picked them up. No one had been lost either time.
At 11, he was out there. The storm had been just below the force that would prohibit fishing. It was marginal, but when in doubt, the rule