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Boating Lives Matter

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Recently I was invited to step aboard a 31-foot Down East-inspired cruiser built in the late 1980s. I stepped into the cockpit amid various tools, including a large shopvac with its filter removed (all the better for moving large quantities of water, you know) to peer down into the keel bilge beneath her single 265-horsepower Isuzu marine diesel. It seemed the dual-bilge-pump setup was giving her owner fits (but in a good way), and he had decided to take a break from tinkering with the wiring on a couple of beercan-size float switches to show me around. At that time he was eyeing the stuffing box as the culprit for the copious amounts of Long Island Sound he was hoovering out of his mechanical space. And he was anxious to get her squared away and cruising, and who can blame him? Having a boat like that is like hearing a muse for some of us, inspiring the sort of onboard adventures another kind of boat just won’t.

Some things you just cannot explain to someone else.

There’s another guy I know who likes to race in his local yacht club fleet. Took it pretty seriously over the last couple of years, tuning his rig and dialing in that hull, and climbed through the standings like a playoff contender as the summer weeks passed. This spring he’s been in the thick of it with his job. Also he’s got a young family and racing like that can be a big weekend time commitment. Bottom line is: He’s a busy guy.

A woman I’ve become with whom I’ve become friendly is also into racing, and she and her husband are raising their three girls to sail, too. It’s a terrific sport that gives you an excellent sense of the surface of this great blue marble we live on, and helps you understand where you fit in on it, on a bunch of different levels. The view is a little different with a tiller and sheet or a throttle and wheel in your hands—and that view looks inward as well as outward.

Another chap I know takes his boats very seriously, buying and refitting them to his own high standard. I think he does it with the intention of keeping it forever, the effort and the dedication he puts into it. He leaves his job at a decent hour each day (not a small thing since he’s a dedicated entrepreneur), and finds his way to a borrowed shed where he works on his latest project boat. And then when she’s all done (and they have each been beautiful), he enjoys her for a while and then sells her himself. And then he buys another project, and uses the skills he’s got to fix what needs fixing and acquires new skills to do what he’s never done before. He’s always growing.

Your waterborne life is just that, a life you lead. And it matters. It’s summertime, get out on the water when you can.

Check out the boat in the photo above, a 2005 Van Riemsdijk listed by Doug Jenkins at Edwards Yacht Sales here.

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