Sum­mer is eas­ier to let go when it has been a full one — it’s time now to ap­pre­ci­ate fall’s boat­ing plea­sures.

Soundings - - Contents - By Mary South msouth@aim­me­dia.com

“Au­tumn is a sec­ond spring when ev­ery leaf is a flower.” — Al­bert Ca­mus

Work­ing at a mag­a­zine does strange things to your sense of time. It’s mid-Au­gust as I write this, but to­day we will be send­ing the Oc­to­ber is­sue of Sound­ings to the printer. So while it is still high sum­mer, my head has been work­ing in mid-fall. It is, I sup­pose, an amped-up ver­sion of that bizarre dis­con­nect that hap­pens this time of year.

You make a quick de­tour from a glo­ri­ous day at the beach and dash into the CVS — all sun-kissed, sandy and blissed out on a vitamin D high — to grab more sun­block or ice for the cooler. And sud­denly, there it is — like a freez­ing bucket of water in the face: row af­ter row of back-to-school dis­plays. Do you leave that store a bro­ken shell of your former self, or do you wres­tle Ein­stein’s wis­dom into self-help: A happy man is too sat­is­fied with the present to dwell too much on the

fu­ture. I’m go­ing with door No. 2. This was the best sum­mer I’ve had since 2011, when I had Bos­sanova on a moor­ing in Jamestown, Rhode Is­land, and lived aboard. Ev­ery sum­mer since has been a smor­gas­bord of vis­it­ing friends who have beach houses, en­joy­ing our small but lovely back­yard and maybe work­ing from the is­land for a week or two — lots of fun, plenty of va­ri­ety, noth­ing to com­plain about. It seemed, though, that the sea­son was over in a flash, and de­spite sam­pling ev­ery­thing on the buf­fet, I felt starved for more.

This sum­mer I was able to spend more than two months work­ing from a re­mote is­land 23 miles off the Maine coast. It was an un­ex­pected joy to have nowhere to go be­yond the mile-by-half-mile con­fines of dirt roads, green fields and gran­ite ledges sur­rounded by the Gulf of Maine. No er­rands to run. No shop­ping to do. And though I only had my boat in the water for a few weeks, I had enough of the con­stant pres­ence of the sea to feel sated and re­ju­ve­nated. Time seemed to deepen and elon­gate — it just felt more sub­stan­tial.

I’m now ready to greet fall and its many plea­sures with­out re­luc­tance. Af­ter all, if you can re­sist the stam­pede to haul out, late-sea­son boat­ing in the North­east can be the best of the year. The water­ways are less con­gested, the weather is of­ten gor­geous, and the fo­liage is spec­tac­u­lar. And as our 11-page spread on new boats (Page 38) will re­mind you — with­out an ounce of sub­tlety — it’s boat show sea­son!

This time of year can be rough on marine jour­nal­ists, but learn­ing new things keeps my job in­ter­est­ing. Af­ter own­ing a 40-foot steel trawler and a 28-foot fiber­glass Cape Dory Fly­bridge, a West Pointer 18 has opened up whole new worlds: cen­ter con­sole, wooden, out­board-pow­ered. In other words, I don’t know jack about my new boat. So this fall I’ll dive into re­search­ing.

Gan­net is over­pow­ered by a 33-year-old 70-hp Ev­in­rude that’s run­ning a lit­tle rough (de­spite a re­cent and costly over­haul). Do I want to throw more money at it, or should I bite the bul­let and get a 50-hp Ev­in­rude E-TEC or an­other mod­ern, lighter en­gine? (I’m also sali­vat­ing over the new ZipWake Dy­namic Trim Con­trol Sys­tem. You can read about it in next month’s Equip­ment col­umn and look for demon­stra­tions at the IMTRA dis­play at the fall shows.) Gan­net has re­minded me that th­ese shows are about so much more than new boats, though more than one per­son has gone to a show in love with his old boat and left with a new one! (Don’t blame us.)

An­other sug­ges­tion for this fall: Con­sider join­ing the back-to-school crowd. AIM Marine Group has cre­ated a resource called Boaters Univer­sity (boater­suni­ver­sity.com). Why not take an on­line Marine Diesel Main­te­nance & Trou­bleshoot­ing Course, from the com­fort of home, with ex­pert Steve Zim­mer­man? It fo­cuses solely on the com­po­nents that are most likely to go wrong, con­cen­trat­ing on preven­tion and re­pair by a boat owner. Learn how to trou­bleshoot fuel, elec­tri­cal, cool­ing and cor­ro­sion is­sues, and un­der­stand how savvy main­te­nance can pre­vent an­cil­lary com­po­nents from fail­ing in the first place. It will feel good to up your game.

And if you’re not quite ready to greet au­tumn with gusto, I hope th­ese pages will re­mind you that there’s no time like the present.

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