The tabletops at the Harbor Cafe in Stonington make for intriguing lunchtime reads. They’re laminated navigational maps of the peninsulas, islands, and inlets in the surrounding area.
Looking at the tabletop map, upside down, I get a dim sense of what it must feel like to be unable to read — knowing that the lines and dots and swirls and numbers must mean something important, but not having the slightest idea exactly what is being communicated. I get that the numbers must indicate depths of the water — am I right on that? — but do all of the little dots indicate outcroppings of some kind? Does the use of shading have some significance? And what about the squiggles and lines that appear at seemingly random points?
One of these days, Kish and I hope to take a class that will allow us to rent and then pilot a small boat in the waters off Stonington. When that happens, I’m going to have to pay special attention during the map reading segment.
We took a boat trip with friends yesterday, and I realized that boating technology has progressed about as rapidly as cell phone technology. The boat’s instrument panel featured RPM monitors, fuel gauges, depth finders, fish finders, engine monitors, more buttons and lights and switched than you could shake a stick at, a GPS link and map that could be scrolled up or down or in or out — and Sirius XM radio.
It all looked so complicated, like the cockpit of a plane, that I wondered if you needed a Ph.D to operate it. That turns out to be a slight exaggeration — our friends only took a week-long course to get up to speed.
It’s hard to express what it’s like for a resident of a landlocked place like Columbus to be out on an open body of water like Maranacook Lake, skimming over the blue water on a boat, dazzled by the bright blue sky above and the sun-dappled water below and enjoying huge gulps of fresh, lake-moistened Maine air.
Words can’t capture the feeling; even pictures can’t do complete justice to the experience. It’s just wonderful, and the kind of special occurrence that make vacations memorable. Thanks to our gracious host, and ship’s captain!
Whenever I visit a big body of water, like Lake Erie, I like to walk through the recreational boat docks. It’s always a colorful and interesting experience, as nimble boaters ready their crafts for a day’s outing.
I’ve never bought a boat, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the boat dealers play on the romance of being out on the water, captaining your own ship, catching prize-winning fish, spending marvelous, sun-dappled days with grateful children, and impressing your neighbors, friends, and clients.
If you walk regularly through marinas, however, you’ll inevitably notice that many of the boats are for sale. That’s because, after the thrill of buying a boat wears off, boaters quickly come to realize that boating is hard work, and expensive, too. You’ve got to find a place to dock your boat and paying the mooring fees. You’ve got to dry dock your boat during the winter. You’ve got to keep it painted, scraped free of barnacles and crud, watch for rust on those gleaming metal surfaces, and maintain the engines. You need to buy boater’s insurance, and God forbid if you have an accident. And you quickly learn that boat engines love to guzzle expensive fuel.
That’s why they say the day the boater buys his boat is the second best day he will ever have. The best day is when he’s lucky enough to sell it.
We were in Vermilion today and had lunch at the Vermilion Boat Club. It was a perfect, cloudless spring day, and the boaters were out enjoying the weather and water. This photo was taken from the VBC docks looking northwest at the lagoon that leads out to Lake Erie.