The Big Chill: A Message From Editor-in-Chief George Sass

Sometimes you just have to chill out and enjoy a slower pace.


I think I've finally seen the light! After the Miami International Boat Show, friends and I planned to take Showtime from Miami to the Florida Keys for a few days, then return to her winter slip in Stuart. Well it's five days since our arrival in Islamorada in the Keys and I'm writing this editorial from the galley dinette while gently tugging on the lines at Plantation Yacht Harbor. Based on our original plans, I should have left two days ago and arrived in Stuart at this point! Instead, we decided to forgo the return coastal cruise and made slip arrangements in the Keys for the next few weeks. I just couldn't pull away from this slice of paradise.

At first my reasoning was the weather. The wind was blowing at 20-plus knots out of the north. So, my rationalization was that it wouldn't be an enjoyable ride for the kids on board. Well wouldn't you know it, the wind died down by the time we needed to depart to make Stuart. There went that well-crafted excuse.

I then rationalized the fuel savings if we hung out in the Keys a little while longer. Since the boat was scheduled to return here on charter not long after we departed, it was a respectable angle. However, diesel priced at $2.45 a gallon complemented by Showtime's miserly consumption of 50 gallons per day would hardly put anyone in the poorhouse.

Showtime's owner Jock West and crew Chris White maintain the boat so well I couldn't fall back on the trusty mechanical failure. Argh! I ran out of excuses and accepted the simple fact that I have tired of my days of grueling delivery schedules and perpetual motion. They have been replaced by an easygoing, enjoy-the-moment rhythm that mirrors Showtime's slow-churning Detroit 671 naturals.

We tied up at the very end of a long dock at Plantation Yacht Harbor-all the docks are new-to capture a stellar view from the covered aft deck across Florida Bay. The breeze has been fresh, the humidity in check, and air conditioning isn't required. At night the bow provides the perfect perch to watch the sunset and enjoy some appetizers while Chris plays some Waylon Jennings tunes on the guitar. Yes, this new mode of slowing down is addictive.

Sure I enjoy urban settings like Ft. Lauderdale-one of our intended stopovers-but how could we top this? Showtime rivals any waterfront cottage I've rented and she is a perfect base for our "Big Chill" getaway-less the drugs and dark underlying tone of course.

For the first few days, Showtime was parked behind John and Poppy Brownlee's house in Islamorada. John is the editor-in-chief of our sister magazine, the venerable Salt Water Sportsman, and a hell of a fisherman. He put his Bertram 37 right on the fish and we enjoyed mutton snapper one night and tuna the next.

There was a revolving door of guests through the boat, and, at certain times, the main salon resembled a halfway house for wayward media executives. Our mutual friends Erin Kenny, former art director of Motor Boating magazine, and her husband Bob Dowling, the former managing editor of Business Week, also made the pilgrimage. Rounding out the crew was Salt Water Sportsman publisher Dave Morel and his wife Margie. Plus Jay and Nelia Coyle were docked a few slips away on board Anhinga. Mac laptops lined up from the aft deck to the salon while each of us worked on various projects before we tried to peel away for some R and R.

My good friends Jack and Suzy Bulger and their daughter Sienna even flew down from Nantucket. The Coyles took Sienna under their wing and showed her the backwaters of the Keys on board their Boston Whaler 13. During dinner, it occurred to me that, while old friends were catching up and new friendships were being forged, we could not have duplicated this atmosphere had we stuck to my original plan of a new port every night. Sienna would have missed exploring the mangroves with Nelia, I would have missed arriving at Sunday brunch by Whaler, and we all would have missed finding the fish with the Brownlees.

Having a boat as comfortable as Showtime certainly helps the effort, but it's a relief to put my overzealous cruising ambitions in the lazarette once and for all. I've mentioned this sentiment before, although it was more in the context of trying to get out on the water with less time available. Now, after a relaxing week with friends and family, I'm thinking that we need to make the time to get on the water, but it's okay if the plan to cover 350 miles turns into 70 miles. Just chill out. Happy Cruising.