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Windshifts: The Scope of Justice

It was a perfect afternoon on the Maine coast. After a pleasant sail to a spacious, uncrowded anchorage, my wife and I spotted the familiar shape of the handsome sloop belonging to our friends Trevor and Maria. We had prearranged the rendezvous.



It was a perfect afternoon on the Maine coast. After a pleasant sail to a spacious, uncrowded anchorage, my wife and I spotted the familiar shape of the handsome sloop belonging to our friends Trevor and Maria. We had prearranged the rendezvous.

I’ve been ridiculed for how far away from other boats I anchor, but this is a type of abuse I can handle, and we cheerfully embarked on the long row over to our friends. This is usually the routine, because we have eaten their cooking, and they have eaten ours, and there’s a remarkably harmonious unspoken agreement regarding lack of reciprocity. Plus, their dog is socially needy, whereas our cat was asleep. Trev and Maria also know how to mix mean tropical drinks. The sun dropped, glasses were drained, and tranquility hung in the air.

Suddenly, a deep-throated roar caused us all to turn and look at the cove’s entrance. Binocular-assisted observation revealed two identical boats approaching: one with a black hull, the other dark green. I don’t know power craft, but I know brand-new, large and expensive when I see it. I can also recognize male bonding, and sure enough, they were running side-by-side at about 12 knots. As they neared, they throttled down, ran a wide circle to ensure they’d been adequately observed, and began thinking about where to anchor. Admiral Black chose a spot that bordered on too close but was within reason. Then Capt. Green decided the logical place for him to anchor was precisely midway between Black and our cocktail hour.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit it: my wife and I don’t like close-anchorers, and I was annoyed. Our hosts, however, were downright livid. And just when we should have been settling in for the peaceful, aromatic run-up to a fine dinner of grilled marinated steak kabobs, we were instead debating the relative merits of simple screaming versus subtle sabotage. I hate to see my hosts upset (not to mention distracted from cooking) so being more uncouth than they, I decided it fell upon me to row over and enlighten this misguided skipper on the “Etiquette of Swingage.”

Soon afterward, as my inflatable gently touched the stern platform of Green, I cheerfully called out, “Ahoy, Skipper.”

A guy appeared. “What do you want?” he said. Not, like, friendly.

I explained that it was the consensus on the good ship “MyFriendsBoat” that he’d anchored too close. He disagreed. I tried to reason, briefly. Then out came a woman who, if she hadn’t looked like she was about to bite the head off an electric eel, would have been quite pretty.

I like teamwork in a crew, and she did not disappoint. “We’re not moving,” said she, and they went below, leaving me to mentally rehearse my diplomacy. I rowed back, we ate with defeated spirits and then had after-dinner spirits.

But God created tidal currents and fickle winds for a reason.

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