From the Editor

The arrival of winter is a perilous time for boat owners, and not just because of memorable gales. No, late fall is tricky because it is the time-consuming and often expensive season of putting our watery friends away for what feels like the indefinite future. Spring launch is arguably more work and expense, but that pain is instantly forgotten with the first blast of salt spray in the face when on the water again. The winter hauling, cleaning, scraping, tarp-covering, and check-writing, on the other hand, can drive even the most severe sufferer of Obsessive Boating Disorder (OBD) to look at their navy and think the unthinkable: one of these beloved watercraft must go.

I don’t mean to make light of far more serious addictions and afflictions by pointing out one of your Island neighbors or loved ones is probably already a sufferer of OBD, the symptoms of which are multiple tarped-over objects in the yard or a garage full of plastic and fiberglass. For me it began in junior high when I spent my first summer earnings on a canoe that I couldn’t use much because I wasn’t old enough to drive it anywhere. I haven’t paddled it in eons, but it’s my first and oldest, you see? The used sea kayak I got at the end of a season from Wind’s Up and traveled widely in while writing books hasn’t been afloat either, but I clearly can’t part with it. Ditto for the fourteen-foot skiff I got third-hand and took down the Mississippi: just because it hasn’t been in the water doesn’t mean I won’t someday take it up the Arkansas. That dinged-up sunfish that washed ashore twenty years ago was an unbidden gift from Neptune that clearly can’t be de-acquisitioned without serious karmic risk. The antique kayaks someone gave me in exchange for a paddling tour of the north shore? They’re collector’s items!

Parting with the surf kayaks that were so intoxicating in the early 2000s would be admitting once and for all that I’ll never again do flat spins down the face of a wave and slide into the beach to find my small son relentlessly trying to stand up on a boogie board in foot-high shore break. (Which is also why I can’t quite part with the three mildewed boogie boards and two skimboards taking up space in the garage.) The longboard that my son and his mom later gave me for my fortieth birthday so I could try and keep up with him is in the same “sell that and you’re officially old” category.

Which leaves only Poohbah, the sweet Herreshoff catboat that belonged to a secretary of the Navy and before that to the painter Ray Ellis. Poohbah is kind of the reverse of surfboards: a neighbor and I bought it a few years back because the price was right and we were feeling irrationally exuberant, but we forgot that we’re not yet retired and so never seem to find the time to sail. (Here come the angry letters from young un-retired sailors everywhere.) I’m proud to say I recently took a melancholy deep breath and sold Poohbah, or thought I did until the day the deal fell through for no reason other than that Poohbah, apparently, didn’t want to move to Cape Cod, which I can understand but seemed a bit, shall we say, enabling.

It’s a sickness, I know. But I want you to know that after the catboat deal fell through I did manage to take a garbage can full of old life preservers to the dump and leave them there. It’s a start, right?