Fall and early winter are always a busy time for marine journalists, with boat shows and travel ramping up the time away from home and the race to get each issue of the magazine out. Add to that new initiatives, open enrollment, end-of-year personnel assessments, budget and editorial calendar planning for 2018 and … the holidays feel like they skid into focus around three days before Christmas, with just enough time left to panic over last-minute shopping. I really hate that, and I have adjusted my calendar accordingly: We now put up our Christmas tree in early December so I can spend as much time as possible looking at it while I wait for the arrival of my Lyft to the airport.
Then there’s January. The initial week is back-to-work and bursting with the promise of firm and cheerful resolutions. As our best intentions begin to crumble, there’s the inevitable arc of disappointments and recriminations. One good thing about getting older and wiser: The arc gets much shorter with experience, and at the pro level, where I live, wastes of time like self-loathing are completely eliminated. Resolutions become a little more like wishes for magic change. And that’s OK.
I am particularly excited about this February. My friend Sam shipped me my new chart plotter, which I’d left behind in Maine, and I’m going to hook it up to a DC power supply and play with it for many happy hours. Might as well load a few waypoints and plot a couple of trips. One of the great joys of our pastime is that anticipation and planning can create virtual enjoyment in those periods when Mother Nature prohibits actual boating. And while that is definitely not as satisfying, if you use your time wisely, it can deepen your enjoyment of the real thing once you’re back aboard. The insanity of December and the obligatory gestures of self-improvement that come and go in January have led me over the years to a genuine savoring of February. Here in the Northeast, it brings the worst weather of the year. It’s important, I’ve learned, to embrace that. Resistance really is futile, so I keep a fire going and hunker down. Upsides? It’s a short month and the bona fide gateway to spring. If you can make it through short, dark February with a modicum of enjoyment, March is when the light at the end of the tunnel will blind you.
“That’s why you can’t be a true Yankee without winter: because all the best pleasures are earned — the fire, the fried oysters; the warmer seasons, too. Who knows the real worth of summer at the beach without a good taste of the seaside in winter? ” — Julia Glass
If you care to join me in some off-season enrichment, consider taking the latest online course from AIM’s Boaters University. Our Fundamentals of Seamanship series begins with Rules of the Road, an in-depth course that dives into the Coast Guard’s Navigational Rules. Instructor Robert Reeder began his seafaring career in Navy submarines and has worked as a watchstander on vessels ranging from container ships to tugboats to high-speed ferries. Reeder will review each rule in detail, citing both inland and international distinctions, and teach the concepts that are essential to every boat on our waterways, from dinghy to superyacht. You can learn more at boatersuniversity.com/courses/ fundamentals-of-seamanship. I’m thinking of taking it as a refresher course.
I’m also looking forward to trying a new hobby: whittling seabirds. I bought myself some soft wood, a couple of books and a handful of tools. By the way, that was back in December 2016, as one of January 2017’s resolutions, but never mind: Hope springs eternal. And as Shelley asked, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue.