UN­DER­WAY

The sum­mer’s not get­ting any younger — it’s time to stop think­ing about it and get out on the wa­ter.

Soundings - - Contents - By Mary South

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.

What do you think of Plover as a boat name? msouth@aim­me­dia.com

“There shall be eter­nal sum­mer in the grate­ful heart.” — Celia Thax­ter

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