The confederation of boating tribes in those parts of the country with clearly defined seasons — that means winter with snow — got together in early September for one last three-day gathering, dropping their anchors and wishing, if not for endless summer, then surely for a longer one.
No matter how you slice it, the season is too damn short. I like long days, evenings that unfold slowly and surface water temperatures of at least 68 F. Maybe I’m getting old — or soft. I used to swim on New Year’s Day in New England.
If the weather breaks right, there will be nice days in late October and even into November. If the easterlies come early, oh well, you can say sayonara to another season.
Labor Day weekend on the water this year looked like the prerecession days of yore, with more than 100 boats nodding easily on their anchors in the light southeast breeze behind the barrier beach.
I left my marina in late morning and ran down the river and through the bay, looking for a new arrival in the harbor. She wasn’t that difficult to spot. Swinging on a transient mooring on the edge of the fairway was a new 41 Cantius built by Cruisers Yachts, a thoroughly modern express boat with pleasant lines, a nice open layout and a sophisticated Volvo Penta IPS propulsion system.
On board with their families were Gary DeSanctis, group publisher of five boating magazines, including Soundings, and associate publisher Sean O’Leary. It was the sort of busman’s holiday that we most enjoy — boats, boats and more boats. The guys had run the Cantius down Long Island Sound from Essex, Conn., where our offices are located, to Watch Hill, R.I.
I pulled up to the swim platform and tied off. It was an interesting juxtaposition: my 44-year-old Boston Whaler nestled alongside a 6-month-old contemporary express cruiser that we’d been testing since late summer. Analog meets digital.
The 41 Cantius has a handsome, sporty look, but what probably turned as many heads as anything over the long weekend was the pair of stools mounted on the swim platform (see Page 70). It was a great place to watch a steady stream of boats slip in and out of the harbor — everything from the lovely Herreshoff-designed Watch Hill 15 open-cockpit sloops to a big triple-outboard Intrepid to an armada of dinghies from the anchorage behind Napatree Point. I spotted an old friend in a Boston Whaler Ventura he’d just picked up for a song at a boatyard auction. Who says you can have too many boats?
Enjoying burgers and dogs and a cold beverage with our stern smack on the edge of the channel, it was easy to exchange friendly banter with fellow tribesmen. The bar stools prompted plenty of second looks and an occasional comment. “What time is happy hour?” someone asked. My little Whaler had her admirers, too.
The nice thing about boats is there’s no one right or wrong way to go about enjoying your time on the water. Old or new; classic or modern; fiberglass, wood or metal; sail, power or paddle — the whole idea is to get out in the briny breezes and have fun.
The Cantius served as the mother ship for a weekend of tubing and barbecuing, a little beach time and a lot of family time. The open layout promotes talk and chatter and laughter. Who wants another burger?
Speaking of contrasts, after lunch we did the requisite tour of the harbor by Whaler, where we eyeballed the slender 74-foot commuter yacht Aphrodite, launched in 1937 for Wall Street financier Jock Whitney. Built by the Purdy Boat Co., Aphrodite has a storied history. But history, as you know, doesn’t pay the bills, and by the 1990s the fast commuter that once whisked Whitney from his home in Manhasset, N.Y., on Long Island to his offices in Manhattan had fallen on hard times, like so many yachts of her vintage.
Before businessman Chuck Royce came to her rescue, her days were clearly numbered. Aphrodite was restored — rebuilt essentially — by the Brooklin (Maine) Boat Yard and now summers in Watch Hill under the able care of Capt. Kirk Reynolds. This elegant yacht with a torpedo stern does not so much move through the water as she slips through it, leaving a negligible wake.
The most beautiful yacht in the world? Click here and judge for yourself.
November 2012 issue
A 1981 Phi Beta Kappa journalism graduate, Bill has been writing about boats for more than two decades. His boating travels have taken him from the Persian Gulf to the Baltic Sea, and always back home to Little Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. As editor, Bill is responsible for planning and executing the publication's boating coverage each month, and his Under Way column starts each issue. Bill has been with Soundings for 20 years and in 1997 won the Moulton H. "Monk" Farnham Award for Excellence in Editorial Commentary.