Rebel Yell

Soundings - - Underway - Jeanne Craig JCraig@aim­me­dia.com By Jeanne Craig

On a damp gray morn­ing in Septem­ber, I left a dry room in a B&B on Belle­vue Av­enue to walk down to Ban­nis­ter’s Wharf, smack in the mid­dle of the har­bor front, ground zero for the town’s sea­far­ing past. I hadn’t been to New­port in a cou­ple of years and there were signs of change along the his­toric streets: am­bi­tious up­start restau­rants and cars with boards lashed to the roofs—an un­der­cur­rent of surf cul­ture. Or, per­haps, sub­tle hints of re­bel­lion among the blue blaz­ers.

At the water­front were more signs of re­bel­lion. It was open­ing day of the New­port In­ter­na­tional Boat Show and builders had filled the slips with their lat­est de­signs. At Hinck­ley, the docks creaked and groaned as waves of peo­ple came through the ex­hibit to get a close look at the new re­leases from this Downeast builder. And yet to their sur­prise, a buzzed-about launch, the Sport Boat 40c [see “Blur­ring the Lines” on page 54] had not a lick of teak on deck. A boat built in Maine with­out wood to var­nish? You bet. This day cruiser was made for the time-pressed exec who’d pre­fer to just wash it down and go.

Over at Back Cove, there was more dis­rup­tion. A pair of ghost-white out­boards sat on the tran­som of the new 34O. High­horse­power mo­tors were on a lot of new boats at this show, but their pres­ence on the Back Cove seemed more strik­ing as this com­pany is best known for craft pow­ered by sin­gle diesel propul­sion. And yet the top­sider crowd gath­ered to check out the 34O seemed to em­brace the change. The big grins were a clue.

I met a fun cou­ple in the cock­pit of that Back Cove. They had come to the New­port show to cel­e­brate their 40th wed­ding an­niver­sary and gift them­selves a re­place­ment for their old Sea Ray, which was the same model my fam­ily had owned for years. This cou­ple, how­ever, had cruised far more nau­ti­cal miles around Long Is­land’s East End than we had. Now, they were eye­ing the Great Loop— rene­gades in the eyes of their adult chil­dren who wanted them to put the an­chor down and spend more time at home.

Con­ver­sa­tions like that one were hap­pen­ing all over the show. On the fish­ing dock, a group of guys were build­ing a bucket list of the re­mote places they wanted to go to troll for bill­fish. Over near the sail­boats, plans were be­ing made for an off­shore pas­sage to Ber­muda. And be­cause Hur­ri­cane Florence was in the news that day, there was talk of storms and sur­vival (see “Slow, Steady & Deadly” on page 12).

Peo­ple swapped hur­ri­cane sto­ries as they made their way off the docks and into town when the show closed at 6 p.m. When dusk fell, their voices car­ried over the har­bor as old friends and new ac­quain­tances hun­kered down at stools in water­front restau­rants, slurp­ing oys­ters and mar­ti­nis, clink­ing glasses and mak­ing en­thu­si­as­tic plans for the next off­shore ad­ven­ture. They were rebels one and all.

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