The summer’s not getting any younger — it’s time to stop thinking about it and get out on the water.
There’s a saying in real estate: Buyers are liars. It explains the couple that insists they must have a split- level ranch house with four bedrooms and a two- car garage in the ’ burbs but wind up in a bidding war on an eight- bedroom Colonial in the remote countryside. Sometimes we don’t know what we want until we see it.
I had my heart set on a Marshall 22, or maybe a Pulsifer Hampton 22, but then I saw a beautiful, super- simple skiff. I don’t want to jinx it, because it’s not over until the fat lady — or in this case, the skinny surveyor — sings, but it looks as if I am about to become the proud owner of an 18-foot strip-planked Alton Wallace-built West Pointer.
An industry friend sent me an alarmed text after reading my last column: A wooden boat? You must have salt water in your veins or early-onset dementia. I responded that it was probably the latter, but truth be told I’m ready. I’ve had 40 feet of steel and 28 feet of fiberglass — 18 feet of wood doesn’t scare me.
The West Pointer’s lines are a lovely surprise on a true workboat. Some fresh paint, a backup bilge pump, a new VHF, a small chart plotter and into the water she goes. It pleases me that mine’s a little scuffed up. She looks loved but used, and that emphasis seems right.
The skiff is going to Matinicus Island in Maine, and so am I. I’ll float her off the trailer when I arrive and float her back on when I leave for the sum- mer. It’s true my boat has no accommodations, no shelter at all except for a canvas dodger to ward off bow spray on a choppy day. And no head or galley, but I’ve got a strong bladder and a portable grill and am ready to embrace the famous rule of thumb that says the enjoyment of a boat is in inverse proportion to its size.
In my mind’s eye, I can already see waking up on a sunny morning, packing the cooler and loading up the family for a run to Monhegan, a trip to see the puffins on Matinicus Rock, a visit with friends in North Haven. As much as anything, I’m tired of looking at boats, talking about boats, writing about boats, thinking about boats and never getting out on the water. After a tough winter, I can finally feel the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, a song in my heart.
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“There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.” — Celia Thaxter