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Boating

20 minutes to better boating

I take my boating safety seriously. For the past 20 years, I have signed up for Coast Guard Auxiliary safety inspection. My spring ritual assures I will be safe, legal and prepared should the Coast Guard or Natural Resources Police choose to stop me for a random on-water inspection.     Every year I pass the formal inspection, but the inspector always makes multiple recommendations for improving my safety. This year I wanted to pass with no recommendations.

In this white world, I seemed to be staring at heaven

I never considered myself the cruise-ship type until I woke up in a luxurious cabin well below 60 degrees south latitude — in Antarctica. The view out the window was so bright and dazzling that I might have been staring at ­heaven, for I could not look too long.     After watching Cape Horn disappear the night before, I had fallen asleep as we clove grey seas into thick fog. Now the curtain had parted to reveal this icy Shangri-La, a splendor of mountains and ice gleaming all around us.

I learned from the best

I was 16 months old when I went on my first fishing tournament, joining my grandfather Bill Burton, at the Waters and Woods Ball Fishing Tournament he staged for more than 50 years in the last weekend of April. I didn’t get to fish until my third tournament, and then I was skunked.

Away is a word with two meanings

As the spring sky was brightening, Roy completed his checklist of the readiness of the trailored boat in his driveway. On board were life jackets, flares, fire extinguishers, paddles, a whistle, flags and flares.

Storms aren’t the Bay’s only surprise

In the summer of ’66, I was 13 years old and halfway through my first summer camp at Severn Sailing Association in Eastport, where I was learning to sail, getting my first full taste of what it was like out there on the waters of the Chesapeake.     All summer long we had sailed our boxy, square-bowed Cadets around short triangular courses in Annapolis harbor, always within eyesight of the club. Instructors in battered Boston Whalers shepherded our motley fleet, making sure that everyone was safe.

In simplicity, I find plenty

It was late October when I launched my kayak from Jackson Landing into the Patuxent River. I wondered what I would find during the lull between migrations. The osprey had already settled into their South American winter quarters, the ducks and swans were still on their way from northern shores. September’s abundance of wildflowers had faded; only remnants of purple asters remained, the rest gone crunchy and brown.

10 products to restore luster and arouse envy

When winter abandons Chesapeake Country, it leaves many a boat looking like an old haunted mansion. Now, boaters are full-swing in chores they would have done in March — if they could have.     My Catalina 34 is my home, so I’ve learned how to avoid that haunted look. This back-to-the-water season, I’m sharing my shopping list of 10 cleaning products to help you bring a glow back to your boat and make your neighbors jealous.

Is it the captain or the electronics?

My whole life I have believed that the skill of the craftsman was more important than the fanciness of the tools.     I reached this conclusion in college when many of my classmates bought $100 slide rules. I got better grades with my $20 model.

Learn what you need to know, take what you need to have

If you don’t have some type of watercraft — be it canoe, kayak, skiff, sailboat, sailboard or motor yacht — you’ll miss out on enjoying our largest public playground: the vast, 4,500 square miles of the Chesapeake Bay.     A boat is your magic carpet for roaming the Bay and its tributaries while fishing, sailing, crabbing, clamming, oystering, photographing or cruising and paddling about in the natural beauty of the Chesapeake.

Jan Miles was bred to captain Maryland’s ­historic clipper ship

The man who grew up to be the captain of Pride of Baltimore II, one of the great tall ships of our age, started his sailing career in Annapolis in the late 1960s.     Jan Miles grew up in a family that sailed for fun, mostly overseas where his father was stationed as a foreign service officer. When the family retired to Annapolis, the teenage Jan had trouble adjusting to life in the states.     “My parents thought it would be good for me to take a year off to collect my wits,” Miles relates.