By KELLY SMITH
For nearly 60 years, Johnston resident Joe Resch has worked for the same company, Metlon Corporation in Cranston. Even when he semi-retired as CEO about 10 to 15 years ago, Resch couldn’t give up the job altogether. As of today, he still works two days a week. He loves the company that much.
And just the same for Resch is the love of sailing. Turning 88 this July, Resch said he has no plan of entirely giving up the sport, though he has cut back on his activities in recent years.
“I enjoy the work, I enjoy the company and I enjoy sailing,” he said. “I’m still doing things I like to do. I’ve enjoyed doing what I like to do I do and what I don’t like, I try and get out of.”
However, cutting back for this father of two, grandfather of 10 and great-grandfather of two, means no longer taking weeklong cruises aboard one of the many boats he’s owned over the years, but rather taking short weekend or overnight trips around Narragansett Bay, Long Island Sound or perhaps along the New England coast to Maine.
Born in Illinois, Resch has been in Rhode Island since 1934. Long enough, in his eyes, to make him “almost a clam.” Even before Rhode Island, Resch lived in Connecticut. It’s there he said he developed his penchant for the water.
“When I was in grammar school, I lived in Connecticut and we belonged to a beach club,” said Resch. “A friend of mine had boats and the boy’s father had an old dory. He had taken a piece of sheet metal for hinges and an old blanket for a sail and well, the boat went. It was an unusual construction, but that was the first active sailboat I sailed. I didn’t own it, but I helped sail it.”
Since coming to Rhode Island, Resch has owned several boats, including a “stink pot,” as he called it, or a powerboat, though he admits his hobby has always been sailing.
“I had a powerboat during the ’50s when the children were young, but other than that, it’s always been sailboats,” he said. “We’ve almost always had a boat. We sold a boat we had for about 14 years last year and then bought another one. We used it last year and we’ll use it again this year.”
The “we” he refers to are he and his wife, Evelyn. Together the two have traveled all over to places like Long Island, Greenport and up the Connecticut River. He said they even spent the night at the Coast Guard Academy once.
“We were one of about five pleasure boats there,” said Resch. “We asked for a tour and after they let us stay overnight. This was long before all the security they have today.”
Anxious for the season to begin, Resch said in early April his boat, which he pays someone else to clean and maintain, should be in the water by April 20.
“I’m sure as soon as it’s in, we’ll be on the bay,” he said.
Resch said he and Evelyn would likely spend a number of weekends this summer overnight on Saturdays, docking in places like Newport and Wickford.
“We have for the last 30 years rode boats you could live aboard and cruise, so we have traveled to Nantucket a number of times, through the Cape Cod Canal, through Boston Harbor a number of times. The longest we’ve been out is three weeks.”
While traveling the waters is something Resch and Evelyn enjoy, he said he has raced in several past regattas, namely those held in the 1950s by the Narragansett Bay Yacht Racing Association.
“I raced a bit back then and won a few,” he said. “Years ago I had some silver plates when they used to give out nice prizes. The most recent race I sailed in was three years ago at the Westbay Yacht Club. I raced in a 30-foot sailboat, but it wasn’t mine. There were three or four of us [who] raced the boat.”
When asked what it is he loves about sailing, and boating in general, Resch said it’s all about being on the water. However, sailing, more specifically, he said, is about the challenge of it all.
“Sailing is dependent upon the wind, the waves, the current and your skills to use them to be able to get somewhere,” he said. “It’s a competitive thing. When any two sailors are alongside each other, even if they are not racing, they will try to go faster than each other. It’s always a race, even if you’re not in a formal race. It’s a competitive thing to try and do better than the person next to you. Sometimes with a small boat you can go faster than a bigger boat and obviously that’s a nice thing. It doesn’t happen often, but you try.”
In fact, Resch is such a fan of sailing, he thinks every parent should allow their children the opportunity to take sailing lessons.
“The thing about boating is these sailing classes they hold around the bay for youngsters teach the kids lessons they’ll need in life,” said Resch. “The best thing a parent can do is get a child involved in sailing for about three or four years because when you are sailing, you are forced to make decisions and the result depends on whether you are floating or sailing or tipping the boat over. It trains people to recognize a situation exists and what to do about it. I think it’s great for a youngster to learn sailing.”