My robin egg blue 7 quart enameled cast iron Dutch Oven arrived the other day and when I placed her on my cooktop that robin egg blue against my red kitchen reminded me of the color scheme of my father’s Mirror Dinghy sail boat. She is robin egg blue with the telltale red sails that are distinctive to Mirrors. Her inner hull was done with a natural finish to bring out the teaky tones of the marine plywood. She was and still is a beautiful little vessel that we have many fond and funny memories. I think because of that little dinghy I have always been drawn to the robin egg blue and red combination.
On his lunch breaks, Dad would frequent the James Bliss Marine store in downtown Boston and dream of someday building his own Mirror from a do-it-yourself kit the shop had in its display. Many of his engineer coworkers were weekend sailors and listening to their stories about sailing on the Cape spurned this Texan to sail. So one day one of his coworkers was selling his sail boat and Dad just happened to ask what kind and to his delight it was the coveted Mirror Dinghy.
“How much do you want for it?” the wannabe sailor asked.
“How does $400.00 sound?” the seasoned sailor said.
“Sold!” said Dad, the newest member of the weekend sailors.
His maiden voyage with her, I just found out, was with his father, my Papaw, and just conjuring up that image of two country bumpkins in a Mirror Dinghy on a New England lake brought me close to hysterics. Dad laughed too as he described the voyage to me this morning. He said that when they finally got her up and running they realized that they were sailing backwards.
When I was older and living in NJ, Dad took us sailing on the Mullica River and we got pulled over by the Coast Guard for using an unregistered motor. What? Its as big as an electric razor, register it? Let me fill you in on the motor. It was a 1.5 hp Sears Roebuck outboard piece of junk. It was about the size of a milkshake machine one would see used in a diner and when Dad did sell the little piece of poop of a motor the buyer asked if it would mix bar drinks.
*Note- It is sometimes good to have a motor just in case you are becalmed. Rowing the length of a river or lagoon can be quite exhausting but probably faster and safer than using that bloody motor. Read the following story.
We had just moved into our Jersey Shore house when one day Rob and I were swimming. I was 9 and he 7. It was a windy day and a gust came through and took down the lagoon with it his Batman floaty. Devastated, little Robbie went after the floaty and got to the end of the lagoon before finally catching it. But now swimming against the current and wind, Robbie became exhausted and had to be rescued. I screamed for Ma, who could not swim, who then screamed for Dad who jumped into the Mirror Dinghy to rescue his exhausted little boy. Instead of rowing he tried to fire up the 1.5 hp engine-that-couldn’t and didn’t. He finally reached the tired boy by the lagoon’s current and pulled him and the floaty to safety. The motor now had to be started as Dad did not have time to throw the oars in the boat prior to the rescue. So Dad pulled. And pulled. And pulled. And pulled. When alas, on the final successful, but powerful pull, (with a few good Texan expletives thrown in), my brother had leaned in for a closer look, just in time for Dad’s fist to make contact with his little head knocking him across the dingy onto its floor. Ma and I saw the whole thing and so did the nosy neighbors who had gathered on their docks to watch the fiasco. It was a while before Robbie got up but when he did we all cheered and cussed that bleeping motor. Good riddance.
There was only one other time my father tried to murder Rob while in the Mirror. They had a great morning sailing off the beach at the end of Radio Road in Mystic Island, when a storm came across the Great Bay. Dad figured they had time for a few more passes when the storm out ran them and took them and the dinghy for the ride of their lives. Dad yelled to Rob that he better get his life jacket on (um this should have been on already?!) and to hold on that Dad was going to turn her around. More like over. They capsized and if I can remember right broke the rudder in the process. Through some miracle they made it back to a very angry, screaming- mimi Italian woman who cursed Dad for the rest of his life for trying to kill her only son. All the crazy stories aside, we have had a ball in that little Mirror Dinghy.
Here is a picture of a Mirror Dinghy from the website ukmirrorsailing.com This little dinghy has a yellow spinnaker in the front as you can see but I believe ours has just the mainsail and jib. Go to this website and see the gallery of these little British beauts in action. Dad hopes to have the Mirror Dinghy sailing again soon as he and mom just moved to Smith Mountain Lake here in VA. I am still wondering if sending my children out sailing with him would be a good idea. Wink.
Mexican Style Shredded Pork
Saute in olive oil in Dutch oven (Mirror Dinghy!):
1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large flat chili, chopped (she used cubanelle but any mild chili will do)
In a plastic freezer size bag, mix:
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons powdered chipotle
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
Place 3 pounds of pork tenderloin (can also use boneless, skinless chicken breasts) in bag and mix to coat meat. Place meat on top of sauted mix in Dutch oven (Dinghy!) and brown. Add 12 oz. bottle of beer or 12 oz. chicken stock. Bring to boil, then cover and cook over low heat 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until tender. Shred pork. Serve with flour tortillas and other favorite toppings. If you have leftovers, make a barbecue sauce and serve as BBQ pork sandwiches.