Missing the Boat

Spring is the season of optimism — and in April, as the first wan rays of sunshine put a little bounce in our step and a chantey in our hearts, it’s time to get the boat ready.


Mary South

"In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson famously wrote. Personally, I think he was off the mark, missing the boat completely (and literally) for those of us who are older, not necessarily men, and passionate about time on the water.

Spring is the season of optimism — and in April, as the first wan rays of sunshine put a little bounce in our step and a chantey in our hearts, it’s time to get the boat ready.

Most of us are looking forward to a season of weekend cruises, perhaps a week or two of vacation under way if the family is as enamored as we are of time aboard. Not so secretly, though, we probably harbor a dream of truly taking off one of these days and making a major voyage.

Believe me: We get it — which is why Yachting launches our yearlong Virtual Cruise this month. We're starting with a carefully planned itinerary that covers the East Coast, casting off the lines in Annapolis, Maryland. Our inaugural feature lays out the kind of information you can expect in each month's virtual journey. Future issues will bring you a main stop in our Cruising Yachtsman section of the magazine, but we'll be leveraging the endless space at yachtingmagazine.com to bring you valuable details from an experienced cruiser: a secondary list of lesser-known, favorite stops between our monthly destinations and a nautical chart labeled with roll-over hot spots highlighting local marinas, boatyards, restaurants, don't-miss attractions and more.

Our expectations for the Virtual Cruise are high because we know our readers are experienced cruisers too. Did we miss something? Let us know by contributing your favorite tips and local knowledge here. Help us build an even better trip. (And West Coast, Gulf Coast, Great Lakes and Great Loop buffs — never fear — your turn is coming!) We hope that our journey along the East Coast will be a constantly improved-upon feature, enriched by new ideas, technologies and the experience that comes only from doing something — even when the doing is virtual!

For my part, I'm afraid all of my doing is going to be virtual for the foreseeable future. Many of you were kind enough to ask for updates on my ailing steel trawler Bossanova. After almost a year on the hard because of sudden and severe galvanic corrosion, my boat deserves a decision. I've gathered enough information to, well, throw in the towel. Two estimates (both approximately $45,000) for doubling the plate on the bottom would allow me to keep her afloat indefinitely but also would make her very difficult to sell. (And since I'm as tied to the dock as most of the employed, I'd already developed lust in my heart for something a little faster and easier to single-hand, like a lobster boat.) One estimate proposed puddle-welding the pits but overlooked the likelihood that overall wastage of the plate would require cutting and cropping in many, many places — and the cost of that was wide open and frighteningly unknowable. A fourth estimate came from New Orleans — thanks to Jay Coyle's introduction to the generous Billy Smith of Trinity Yachts, who was able to get me an estimate from someone he trusts to do it right: gas-freeing the boat, cutting out the old plate and replacing it with an all-new bottom of five-eighth-inch steel. The yard he spoke with could manage this for about the same price as those estimates for doubling the plate here in the Northeast — so let me tell you, I spent a fevered weekend calculating the steps it would take to get Bossanova seaworthy enough for a 2,000-mile voyage of several months. I imagined the thrill it would be to cast off this summer, stopping at great towns along the way and keeping Yachting readers fed and watered via an excellent satcom setup. Visions of oyster po' boys, ice cold Abitas and the Lost Bayou Ramblers danced in my head.

Then I came to my senses. Unless I can find a similar estimate in the Northeast, Bossanova is going to be sold to someone with the skills or fear-free finances to get her back in the water. Friends, if you have a better idea (or a welder in the family!), I'd love to hear from you … because I'm already missing the boat.