I hate this time of year. Some of my friends wax rhapsodic about crisp fall air, the changing of the leaves and the coming holidays. But all I can see at the end of October is the end of the sailing season and the long winter stretching out before me.
On arriving at Alligator River Marina after a 15-mile passage across Albemarle Sound, we got a bit of a surprise. The place was practically empty, which was weird considering it was October, the height of snowbird season.
“Jim! What’s wrong?” I shouted as I sprinted half-awake toward the companionway with Glen, our 11-year old son, close on my heels. The roar of our diesel engine thundering into reverse had yanked me from my sleep.
In April, reader Dennis Michaud wrote SAIL complaining about the “glorification” of sailors “traveling on a shoestring” while he got a PhD, taught at university and is now about to hire 500 people and purchase a custom yacht—and “pay the onerous yard bills.”
The first time I saw a spinnaker I was only a few years old. It was flying on the bow of a 35ft foot cruiser off the coast of Maine. A few years later, my father agreed to set the kite on our 50ft Hinckley, a rare concession.
During the summer sailing season I had kept Radiant Beam close to my favorite cruising grounds near Pamlico Sound in North Carolina. As November approached, however, it was time to bring the boat back to her homeport in Wilmington.