The Deck Per­spec­tive

Power & Motor Yacht - - LOGBOOK - BY JA­SON Y. WOOD

The best thing about sum­mer where I live in coastal Con­necti­cut—and we’re in the thick of it as I write this—is the way we can live within a stone’s throw of the Sound (as in Long Is­land Sound) yet man­age to keep things sep­a­rate enough that it of­fers a true dis­con­nect. By dis­con­nect I don’t mean it in the what the hell is go­ing on with this Wi-Fi? way but in the good un­plugged way, that feel the warmth of the sum­mer sun on your shoul­ders way. Keep­ing a boat nearby is the surest way to ef­fect a much-needed escape, even for a lit­tle while. It’s funny, the dif­fer­ence I feel from when my feet are on my drive­way to when they ac­tu­ally touch the deck of a boat, is down­right stark.

Last time I no­ticed was a few days ago. I was go­ing fish­ing with a friend and the tem­per­a­ture change alone from drive­way to deck felt like 15 de­grees. But it’s more than that. You know what I’m talk­ing about. It’s like a shift in your brain, where its com­put­ing power stops work on the stan­dard set of ques­tions of day-to-day life and takes on an en­tirely new one. And that sec­ond set of ques­tions, un­like a large per­cent­age of those in the first set, are all about the kinds of chal­lenges you don’t mind fac­ing: “Where will the fish be to­day?” “Well I don’t know, what’s the tide do­ing?” “Bot­tom half of the in­com­ing.” “Should we try where we went the last time?” “In this wind? What do you think?” “What do we have for bait?” Th­ese ques­tions in the cock­pit will get an­swered, one way or an­other, and with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess, through­out a day’s fish­ing.

Now bear with me for a mo­ment: Let’s take a wider view of the day on the wa­ter, pull that moviecam­era lens away from that dock­side dis­cus­sion, and broaden the cir­cle of our con­sid­er­a­tion to bring in a few other boaters. At the public boat club where we’re just cast­ing off, families and friends are com­ing to­gether, ex­cited to be get­ting out on the wa­ter, or work­ing on their boats. In the moor­ing field, I spy a friend’s Dyer 29 swing­ing against the cur­rent, bright blue top­sides gleam­ing in the sun. I know he wants to sell his boat (he’s al­ready got an­other he’s work­ing on). But af­ter all the love and at­ten­tion and sweat eq­uity he put into this one, the ques­tions prob­a­bly arise for him as well: “Would it be bet­ter to sell her lo­cally, so I can keep an eye on her?” “What’s the next of­fer go­ing to be?”

Maybe some­one is de­cid­ing to try wa­ter­ski­ing for the first time. Per­haps we see a fleet of Op­tis round­ing the mark, ju­nior sailors learn­ing the thrill of prac­ti­cal lessons ap­plied as they an­swer their own ques­tions of tac­tics and strat­egy in rapid suc­ces­sion. Some boats are moored, vis­it­ing from New York or far­ther away, and mak­ing their ways to New­port or the Cape or New Eng­land’s cruis­ing grounds be­yond. “Should we stay here an­other day or find an­other spot up the coast?”

Take the lens back even far­ther and we can see the en­tire breadth of the Sound, boats show­ing up as white wakes against the blue-green. Cen­ter con­soles bob at an­chor at seem­ingly ran­dom spots—it al­most feels as though the an­glers aboard avoid eye con­tact with pass­ing boats, not want­ing to give up a honey hole. Now you can imag­ine even larger ques­tions that form as we col­lec­tively take on is­sues sur­round­ing fish­ing, wa­ter qual­ity, ac­cess, and the like. As to the lo­cal fa­vorite striped bass, this sea­son has been a bust for many an­glers, and the sci­ence is point­ing to over­fish­ing as a root cause. “Should I kill this ‘keeper-size’ striped bass to­day?” may be­come a less com­mon ques­tion. Just re­cently I signed a pe­ti­tion con­firm­ing I wouldn’t take two fish at 28 inches in a day, in­stead agree­ing to a self­im­posed limit of one fish at 32 inches.

Use an even wider view and you can see the en­tire East Coast of the United States and into the Ba­hamas. Even wider and it’s the en­tire U.S. on up to Alaska and down into Mex­ico and the Caribbean. Ev­ery­where you look, ev­ery boater has ques­tions he faces as his feet hit the deck.

What are the ques­tions that come to mind on your boat? Tell me where your head’s at at in­[email protected] pmy­mag.com, and share how you’re go­ing about get­ting the best an­swer. See you on the wa­ter.

Of­ten puz­zled, never stumped: The au­thor fig­ures ev­ery ques­tion has at least one good an­swer.

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