Volume XVII, Issue 41 # October 8 - October 14, 2009

from the Editor

See You at the Boat Shows

There’s no better place to shop for toys

Just as writer Jane Elkin pushes me to think about Christmas, when she’d like us to run a toy story, the U.S. Boat Shows come to Annapolis. What was your favorite toy she wants us to ask people aged 16 to 96.

I’m right in the middle of that age range (well, maybe high middle), and I don’t need to wait till Christmas to give Jane my answer.

My favorite toy is the boat my husband and I bought ourselves three years ago. An Albin 28, it’s our third big boat (after a small fleet of paddle-inflatables, canoes and our 21-year-old, 22-foot-long Current Design touring kayak).

Not since childhood have I indulged such long hours of delicate attentions with so little guilt. Like my well-remembered metal dollhouse, this boat gets care I don’t begrudge, even when I’m down cleaning a dirty bilge or figuring out a diesel engine. But my boat goes my dollhouse several better. My dollhouse was a simple stage on which I could play out my imaginings, while my boat repays my interest with inventions of its own.

My dollhouse was too small to sleep in, but my boat is not. And when I curl up inside (or on deck) for a nap or a night, it rocks me to sleep with a lullaby. That’s all without leaving the dock.

Out on the water, I become a creature of a different order. The experience of buoyancy … the surround of water, sky, sun and wind … the fluidity of change in all these elements … the sharpening of my senses to perceive them in flux … the limitless sense of possibility: This is the kind of play one gets on such a fine toy as a boat in the water.

Not to mention speed and the pursuit of fish, which are part of my husband’s play.

Yes, our boat is a powerboat (a question I’m asked all the time at our marina by other boaters — usually sailboaters — wondering if I’m worth their time).

But that preference won’t keep me away from the U.S. Sailboat Show. The winds of October, which take the fun out of motorized cruising and fishing, have me wondering once again why I don’t let them push me around. The silence, the sustainability, the harmony with the forces of nature …

The sight of all those boats out there slicing the water under wind has me tempted, as did reading up on Walter Cronkite while I was writing this week’s feature story on our neighbor and Cronkite captain Robin Allison. Cronkite loved to sail, to meet “the challenge of the open sea.”

Competence is an essential quality to take with you in any boat, and Mother Nature loves to give pop quizzes to see if you’ve packed yours. But I admit to believing that sailing takes higher degrees of competence than powerboating.

I’ll be thinking such thoughts this week, as I imagine the fun I’d have in the 250 sailboats big and little (all the better to learn in) that I’ll ogle and visit likely on more than one day while the U.S. Sailboat Show is in town, October 8 through 12. Surely there’s room in my life for a little sailboat.

Then when the U.S. Powerboat Show comes to town, on October 15, husband Bill and I will be tempting ourselves all over again. That’s where we researched and found our current beloved boat.

But as Walter Cronkite said in answer to his wife’s question, “Doesn’t anybody ever buy a smaller boat?”

“Not if they can help it.”

       Sandra Olivetti Martin

   editor and publisher