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A perfect match

One thing I’ve noticed as I age is acceleration in the passage of time — not day-to-day so much as year-to-year. 2015 is rushing by so fast that I sometimes feel captive in a speeding vehicle, watching the scenery whoooosh by: snow, snow, snow, mud, forsythia, tree buds, lilacs, leafy canopies, heat waves shimmering on the horizon … STOP!

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As far as I’m concerned, we’ve arrived. Summer is the destination, but Time, that runaway vehicle, won’t slow down. I am seriously considering opening the door and doing a tuck-and-roll escape into a roadside ditch. It’d be nice if we could do that — get up, dust ourselves off and stay a little longer in a favorite time or place.

I would linger a long, long time in the barefoot paradise of summer.

Last month, I promised to have a boat in the water by now — a bold, ambitious and very public challenge to myself. What kind of idiot does that? (Hi, I’m Mary. Have we met?) Here’s what happened.

I went to Massachusetts to see the Young Brothers 38. It felt like a tank underfoot, and the forward cabin had been cleaned up and renovated in a simple way I really liked. But there was a lot that needed completion: new tanks, galley and electronics installations, for instance. I loved the bones of this boat, but it was hard to hear the violin strings of romance over the brassy ka-ching of a frequently opening cash drawer. If only I had more time and skill or a fatter wallet. I don’t, and in the end, I wasn’t carried away enough to make a decision I’d regret. (Whew!)

The next day I went to Annapolis, Maryland, to see a very updated 1988 Cape Dory 28 Flybridge cruiser. It seemed foolish not to, though I felt a little like a character in a Jane Austen novel, presented with an eligible bachelor from a better family than I deserve but resisting the match out of pride. I yearned to hold on to my independent streak, to turn my nose up at her gleaming Stars and Stripes Awlgripped hull, her warm and well-cared-for teak saloon. I didn’t want a flybridge, but with the Bimini and canvas removed, the profile is low, and I could imagine how nice it would be to drive from there on a sunny day. The 240-hp Yanmar diesel is clean, with less than 1,000 hours, and compact enough to leave space in the engine compartment for easy servicing. More important, I can cruise at 15 and top out at 18. Most systems have been upgraded. And, well, I must admit, her lines are handsome — the Down East heritage is apparent — even if she lacks the stunning looks of a simple lobster boat.

So, dear readers, I started to feel I ought to love her and in the process, because I am a lot older and a little wiser than I once was, I began to fall in love. I started imagining everything this boat would give me: relative peace of mind about her condition, quick weekend trips to see friends and family in other parts of New England, a cozy and bright floating home-away-from-home in the summer.

I struck a deal and returned to Annapolis for the survey and sea trial. At about 2,200 rpm, the turbo seized, and black smoke billowed from the stern. Was I distressed? Not in the least. I felt lucky: The turbo might have seized a few weeks later; now it was just another item that would go on the surveyor’s very short punch list.

So my ambitious plan to splash within the month may have been thwarted, but I’m OK with that. Now that I can see myself aboard and have found a slip and picked out some new electronics, I can think of almost nothing but donning shorts and a T-shirt, kicking off my shoes and getting out on the water. Perhaps I should name the boat Mr. Darcy?

It’s going to be a great summer.

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue.