It’s April, the month I long for each year more than any other. The first crocuses, daffodils and forsythia are doing their annual interpretive dances as David, waging small but bright insurrections against the Goliath of late snowfalls, muddy slush and the last of the endless gray skies.
Even on the days they seem to be losing their little skirmishes, we know how this story ends: There will be long, sunny days; there will be birdcalls and tree buds; and there will be spring launches. If one of life’s sadder sights is an empty harbor and boatyards full of captive, shrink-wrapped boats, then one of its gladder ones is watching this movie in reverse. A couple of Chris-Crafts, a Hatteras, a few Sea Rays, a Sisu, a Cape Dory — they seem to blossom across a sparkling mooring field like so many hopeful spring flowers.
It’s the wide-open promise of this season that makes it so joyous. We believe that this season we’ll do better than last year. We’ll spend less time taking care of the boat and more time enjoying sunsets from the stern. We’ll use all of our vacation time (for a change) and take a slow cruise, stopping to explore new towns and empty coves. We’ll be the first boat in and the last boat out, and we won’t miss a single weekend aboard. Summer stretches out before us, and anything seems possible.
Of course, we’re not naive. Experience has taught us that some ridiculous crisis will come up at work at just the wrong time; that an engine component will fail and a part will be back-ordered for weeks; that illness — minor or major — will strike a crewmember and leave all other concerns tied to the dock. That’s life — but this? This is spring, unblemished by tawdry disappointments.
I, for one, am able to completely suspend disbelief and plan a season that will be better than any before: Every. Single. Year. And you know what? Every now and then I’m right.
Putting this issue of Soundings together was a challenge. The first boat I yearned to buy was a passagemaker. I settled for a very sturdy trawler when I realized it was more realistic for my abilities and my budget. More than a decade later, and the proud owner of a Cape Dory 28 Flybridge, I still find myself imagining a few years off to circumnavigate aboard any of the great boats you’ll find on page 42. But I also yearn from the bottom of my aging heart to be aboard our cover boat, navigating a classic cat in its uncorrupted simplicity through spring wetlands, sated by a few hours of unbroken peace and beauty.
It’s been called a disease. I think that’s a little too negative but, like an illness, our shared passion has a tendency to strip things down to what matters most: the small slap of the hull coursing through water, the quiet puff of a luffing sail, a sudden tug at the end of a fishing rod.
Congratulations, my fellow sufferers. Let’s get out there, in whatever way we fancy, and make the most of what will undoubtedly be the best season ever.
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue.