Re­flect­ing on mar­riage; and one last cruise as a free man.

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE - Daniel Hard­ing Jr. dhard­ing@aim­me­

In life, as in boat­ing, it’s im­por­tant to find a part­ner who will stand by you not just in the good times—that’s easy—but in the bad. Over the last eight years, Karen has proven to be such a part­ner. From con­vinc­ing me to buy and re­store our first boat, to spend­ing hundreds of hours sanding, paint­ing, prim­ing, and dol­ing out moral sup­port, we’ve be­come a pretty good team on the wa­ter. But don’t let me fool you; it’s been a process. In the early days we would smile and laugh as I taught her the ways of boat­ing. And man, did we have to start with the ba­sics.

Ropes are for land, when you’re on a boat it’s called a line. No, they’re fend­ers, only rook­ies call them bumpers. Red, right,

re­turn­ing. I look back on those years fondly. To­day, she puts many in the boat­yard to shame with a unique com­bi­na­tion of work ethic and pos­i­tiv­ity. Where grouchy old boaters spend most of their time lean­ing on jack stands grum­bling about all the work they have to do, Karen can be found hum­ming along to mu­sic, and mov­ing from paint­ing, to sanding, to shut­tling tools—or lunch—up the lad­der to where I’m typ­i­cally grum­bling about work I have to do.

“That’s quite the mate you have there,” an old salt said to me re­cently, while watch­ing Karen wax the hull with aban­don. “Taught her ev­ery­thing she knows,” I joked. Yes, it’s true I may have taught her about ba­sic boat chores and what side of the buoy to stay on, but let’s be hon­est, any­one can do that.

It’s what she taught me about boat­ing that de­serves the real recog­ni­tion. Things like: jYou don’t need to travel far to have an ad­ven­ture. jYou need to change the sheets more than once a sum­mer. jTalk to strangers.

jThings don’t have to go per­fectly to have a per­fect day. jWear shower shoes. jYou don’t have to have ev­ery sec­ond of a boat trip planned; some­times the most mem­o­rable mo­ments are the ones you never saw com­ing.

I was re­flect­ing on these lessons as a crew of col­leagues and I cruised a Beneteau MC5 from Es­sex, Con­necti­cut, to Long Beach, New York. We were headed to my wed­ding. Yes, de­spite the risk of us run­ning south of the bor­der, Karen per­mit­ted me to go on one last cruise as a free man (I have a feel­ing she was mon­i­tor­ing our AIS like the CIA).

The day trip with the Power & Mo­to­ry­acht crew was filled with laugh­ing, and mess­ing with the MFD—oc­ca­sion­ally punch­ing in Ha­vana as our next way­point, just for cu­rios­ity.

I would ar­gue it was the nicest day of the sum­mer. Sunny, warm, but not too hot. We traded sto­ries, shared our fa­vorite songs, and even stopped for an al­fresco lunch on the fly­bridge.

The At­lantic was pan­cake flat. Man­ag­ing Ed­i­tor Si­mon Mur­ray was at the helm for all of a few min­utes when he shouted, “Whoa, did you see that? It looked like a sail­fish.”

“There’s noth­ing like that around here, you … WHALE! WHOA!” I shouted as I took the helm from him and brought the boat to neu­tral. We scanned the horizon like Ahab try­ing to find the beast again, but to no avail. Still, it was a chance en­counter with an an­i­mal rarely seen off Long Is­land. I like to think it was an omen, but of what I’m still not sure.

It was a short trip, and all too soon we were tied up be­hind the Bridgeview Yacht Club. Sur­rounded by good friends with a great day of cruis­ing in our wake, on the eve of mar­ry­ing an in­cred­i­ble girl, I was forced to pon­der a ques­tion I’ve asked my­self many times be­fore: Does it get any bet­ter than this?

Only time will tell, but when I think about the fu­ture, I can’t help but think that it just might.

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