Free at last, free at last! After four months of winter imprisonment in a DIY boatyard, my classic sailboat was unchained from a work bed of dirt and stone April 10 and returned to its natural element. As we motored away from Casa Rio Marina in Mayo, Md., I released a loud “Yee-hah!” and waved farewell to any who might be listening and watching.
I must confess that I am one of those boaters who do not thoroughly read the operational manual that comes with a new outboard. I have paid a price through the decades for this negligence, even though I usually blame any malfunction on the engine, not on myself.
I’m usually too occupied with sailing in-season to focus on items on my boatwork to-do list, but with Erewhon hauled for the winter I have the opportunity to tackle that never-ending list and maybe have a clear slate in the spring. Oddly enough, I think I would be uncomfortable if I had nothing to list or cross out anymore. It has sustained me through the decades and kept me busy.
Any veteran sailor who has cruised Chesapeake Bay for years should have a harrowing tale or two to tell shipmates. It is the nature of a rewarding sport that at times can be dangerous, risky and challenging.
I have had my share of close calls, including the sinking of my Westphal 28 one-design 35 years ago in a freak 70-knot squall on the Tred Avon River in Oxford, Md., a mishap that earned me the nickname “Shipwreck.”
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Jack has been cruising Chesapeake Bay and writing about the region for more than 25 years. His critically acclaimed book, "Maryland's Vanishing Lives," was published by Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University Press and is now in its second printing. Before joining Soundings, Jack was a feature writer at the Washington (D.C.) Star for nearly 20 years and a senior editor at Chesapeake Bay magazine from 1995 to 1998. His monthly Bay Tripper column focuses on the Chesapeake.