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Soaking up summer

 Longtime cruisers indulge in their favorite summertime destinations up and down the East Coast

From Maine to Florida, here are five favorite stops to take in everything the season has to offer.Soundings contributing writer Mary Drake and her photographer husband, Bob, have been wayfaring together for over 25 years up and down the east coast. Here, they provide brief descriptions of five of their favorite haunts.

The couple is gifted with a restless curiosity that keeps them poking around and looking for unique, historically rich, friendly waterfront communities that are steeped in maritime tradition and heartily embrace boats and boaters. They have profiled 150 destinations for Soundings since 1986, from Maine to the Keys, along the Gulf Coast and on New York’s lakes, rivers and canals.

Mary says the first thing they do when they arrive at a destination is walk the docks and talk to boaters. Then they hit the streets. The best gauge of a community’s friendliness: Do strangers greet you with a wave?

The Drakes are partial to places that are peaceful and rich in tradition, though Mary says they are not averse to change. Through the years, they have seen comfortable marinas, quaint shops and tree-lined streets transform dilapidated waterfronts. “The towns are changing, but the boaters are changing more,” she says. The cruising family making ends meet on a lick and a promise has given way to the retired couple cruising on a comfortable nest egg.

In her previous life, Mary and then-husband George Maynard built a faithful reproduction of Joshua Slocum’s wooden sailboat Spray in the backyard of their Noank, Conn., home and made a five-year circumnavigation with their dog and three children — without benefit of an engine. Before he married Mary, Bob and his family cruised the Caribbean on the 43-foot William Atkin ketch Kismet, also a wooden boat.

“I guess that’s why we tend toward history and tradition,” says Mary.

 See related articles:

- Block Island, R.I.

- Stonington, Conn.

- Key West, Fla.

- St. Marys, Ga.

- Rockland, Maine

This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue.

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