Monday, May 16, 2011

Down To The Sea In Ships

I keep my boats docked in a lagoon that opens onto a bay that opens onto the Atlantic Ocean.  It’s in a residential area that at the high point of the summer season holds 30-40 boats, ranging from about 12’ to 35’. Boats larger than that must be kept at a commercial marina.  Given the weather patterns, people start tying up in our lagoon on or about May 1st.  Boats come back out to “dry dock” in September and October. I’m typically “in” by mid May, “out” by early November.  

At the start of this past weekend there were 8 boats tied up in my lagoon.  Lots of other boats had their winter covers off and guys were working on them on their front lawns and in their driveways.

On Saturday, my friend B was driving past the house as my oldest son and I were working to prepare for the launch of my big boat, and doing spring prep on the smaller one for launch in a few weeks.  He stopped to say hello.  “Is your boat in?” I asked him. “Yup! And I’m retired now, so I’m going to be out fishing more than ever,” he told me.  B is a tough older guy, a patient fisherman not put off by rough ocean waters.  Later that same day, my friend K from across the lagoon shouted over “when are you going in?”  I was walking to the dock with extra tie-up lines and the bumpers we use to keep boats from hitting the docks when waves push too hard at them.  “Today!” I said.  “Good for you, congratulations!” he called back. K was first in our canal this year and every year.  He’s a little younger than me, but he really knows his seamanship and takes his very large sport fishing boat up and down the east coast every winter.  In our lagoon he keeps a pair of smaller fishing boats, one a little larger than my big boat, one a little smaller. He keeps them meticulously clean, always ready for some fishing.

Down at our docks, May is a month of promise and potential.  We stop by and see each other, and comment on any new boats that might be appearing. Our boats are being launched, and the lagoon goes from empty to bustling with activity over the course of the month.  We chat idly about what repairs or improvements we are doing to our boats.  We may offer a cup of coffee if it’s morning, a cold beer if it’s afternoon.  We walk along the bulkheads and visit the next boater/fisherman and ask how the season is shaping up for him.

By Saturday evening, there was a 9th boat in the lagoon. My 26-footer, Freedom, looking fit and ready.

There’s a certain gleam in the eye of each of us in May. The look that says, “this will be my best year yet – I have dreams, and I have plans to make them real." It gives us away, and explains why we go down to the sea in ships.

Are you a boat owner and a fisherman?  Tell me about the start of your season by leaving a comment here.

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