Off Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts, 4:30 a.m. The predawn chill of late October is intensified by a bitter wind. Whitecaps dot the gray-green waters around the Elizabeth Islands. It’s a perfect morning for striped bass.
A small, sturdy boat manned by a few figures in oilskins fishes close in, right off the shore. It haunts the troughs behind the offshore bars, delves into the surging gullies of foaming water around kelp-covered boulders, swirling with currents.
Open boats allow us to experience the sights, sounds and smells of being on the water up close and personal. The wind in your face. Salt air in your lungs. Water lapping the hull sides. Gulls chasing bait around the bay. Isn’t this what boating is all about?
It gets even better when you enjoy these simple pleasures with friends and family, and open boats encourage socialization with their free-flowing layouts from bow to stern.
This Pacific Northwest workboat conversion is enduring and endearing
It’s nearly a law of nature: A boat voyeur’s stroll through the Boat Haven in Port Townsend, Washington, stops on B-Dock. That’s where Petrel is tied up, and that’s where anyone, even folks who don’t know much about boats, pause to stare. She’s a converted salmon troller of modest size at 42 feet overall — a vessel so cute, so right, so honest, she’s like that perfect little boat a kindergartner might draw from imagination.
Sixteen feet of speed and sex appeal. The Donzi Ski Sporter still looks good 50 years after her introduction. And what a sensation the “Sweet 16,” as she was affectionately known, created back in 1964 when raceboat driver and designer Don Aronow showed the boat off to a public eagerly playing in Sunfish, Boston Whalers and other small boats.
A day aboard a working tug in Baltimore
My valued friendship with one of the port of Baltimore’s senior tug captains enabled this small-craft sailor to experience the sights and sounds of the commercial harbor from the “other man’s” vantage point. The view from the wheelhouse led me to write “Gentlemen of the Harbor: Stories of Chesapeake Bay Tugboats and Crews,” from which the following is excerpted.
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