It's hard to imagine trying to conduct a rescue under much worse conditions. Hurricane-force winds, gusting to 100 knots. Temperatures a nail-popping minus 20 F. Snow falling in heavy, swirling curtains. Seas running to 12 feet. Freezing spray. A January darkness nearly impenetrable, even with powerful searchlights.
Fall is a small-batch bourbon. Fleeting, bittersweet, aromatic. It's the best season. Autumn offers a bit of everything for those who linger on the water before it officially exits on Dec. 21, the winter solstice, effectively slamming the door until spring.
You can learn a lot about a boat when it starts gusting up and a sea begins to build. Does the boat want to knock your fillings out? How well does she track? Are the passengers comfortable, or are their knuckles starting to turn white? Most important, is she seaworthy?
We were drifting 12 miles southeast of Block Island, R.I., in 140 feet of water in a spot called the "Gully" - six old friends in the cockpit of a 30-foot sportfisherman, chumming for shark and hauling long strings of memories out of the deep water.
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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.