Old Tom Dower had as strong a will to live as anyone I’ve interviewed.
I last spoke to Dower more than 25 years ago. He was 70 and had just started building his fifth boat. A year or so earlier, he had survived being run down by a vessel about 20 miles off Virginia. Dower was single-handing his 33-foot ketch from Florida to Newfoundland when he was rammed about 1 a.m. It could have been a “doper,” he told me, or a fishing trawler. Whatever the vessel, she never stopped.
Boats should look like boats, and churches like churches.
At their best, boats are an outward expression of an inner conversation about beauty and purpose (to paraphrase a furniture maker). A boat should make you want to run your hand along some part of it, and the right boat, as I have said before, should make you stop and turn as you walk away from it — and look back with longing.
In some cases, the determination is more straightforward than in others. A boat sinks quickly in horrendous conditions. The water is cold, the crew inexperienced, there is no life raft or survival suits, the last known position is vague.
It’s been a good year for looking back and visiting with old friends and colleagues, for remembering the early days when both life and boats moved a bit slower. With this issue, we wrap up our yearlong celebration of our 50th anniversary. I tip my hat and bid adieu, at least for a while, to the stories of Jack Turner, our iconic founder, who was one of those bright, complicated, busting-at-the seams characters you want to work with at least once in your career.
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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.