A good, well-built small boat can take far more punishment than its operators will ever care to endure. That’s just one of those truisms about well-found boats in the hands of experienced helmsmen — or perhaps even in no one’s hands.
There is within our big tribe a much smaller band of wind-burned wanderers who live for blue water, who push at the margins in search of adventure, solitude, records, wide-open spaces, a pot of gold, something more. You name it.
The wind shook the old captain’s house as the matriarch recited “The Wreck of the Hesperus” and other dusty poems of the sea. She was in her 90s then, memory sharp and her voice still strong, with rhythm and cadence. It was a good night to be out of the weather.
Another season is winding down — turning over, packing up, digging in, heading south. A couple of old gaffers at the marina are hauling an old boat for winter. The helper returns to the slip and kneels to remove the dock lines. He turns and smiles, and I find myself looking into the face of an ancient Yankee fisherman-farmer already anticipating in his bones the iron cold lurking just a turn or two away on the calendar.
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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.