Pale Gray Mornings
One thing I’ve noticed so far this summer is that the ospreys have been really active where I live. You may see these birds of prey in your neck of the woods too, soaring over waterways on their white- and black-barred wings in search of a fish for dinner. Maybe it’s because we’re often doing the same thing from our boats that makes our shared time within sight of these fish hawks that much more meaningful.
The ornithologists out there may have the science to correct me, but I swear I’ve watched these birds teach their young to fish just like we do. Or maybe I have that backwards, since their fishing technique is more refined than ours, and more successful.
There’s another lesson from the osprey, now back in great numbers from pesticide-induced population collapse: It’s never too late.
This is a smart sentiment to keep in mind, since summer is upon us and the days can feel endless and full of promise: Dawn’s swirling tendrils of fog give way to bright mornings, which pass through the high sun of midday and into languorous afternoons with breezes teasing through the cockpit and maybe a nap—after all we had an early start.
And so it was, on a few occasions to be sure, but on one in particular quite a few years ago now, we got one of those early starts to fish around the Cape on my brother-in-law’s Regulator 23. He and I had a good few hours, but the sun seemed to climb quickly that day, and the fishing shut off.
We stowed the rods and got underway. We were just messing about, not in any rush to get back, and we idled past a marina or motored through a mooring field, looking at boats as we both like to do.
That’s when we happened upon a bird of a different sort altogether. Her name was Chewink, and she was painted pale gray. In simple letters on her transom was a hailing port of Telluride, Colorado—evidence of a sense of humor. My brother-in-law popped the outboard out of gear and we just took her in for a few moments in silence.
She looked to be a bit over 30 feet long, painted gray, and her proportions were just ... different. From our vantage point she looked long and narrow, Down East style with a little trunk cabin and an unusually tall, narrow house, open aft of course. She might have been made of wood. Maybe it was the gray paint but she had a patrol-boat feel to her. Her cockpit was high-sided and she had an unusually shaped teak swim platform that reached well off her transom. Not ideal to fish, and for the first time in my life that didn’t matter one whit.
“Put a deck chair out there,” I said, more to amuse myself than anything.
“Hmm,” my brother-in-law said finally as he pushed the lever forward.
I turned all the way around and faced aft to see her from every angle as she slipped out of sight.
Fast forward a few years, to the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show in 2013, when I laid eyes on the Baglietto MV13, a 45-foot aluminum boat styled to resemble a patrol boat, right down to her silver-gray paint and the Italian flag emblazoned on her topsides. Something clicked.
Over the course of the next few months, there I would be, on deadline, an article file open on my computer screen sitting idle as I used the power of the Internet to try to track down Chewink, just hoping to see a photo, get a glimpse of her, to refresh that fading image of my memory.
I was successful.
Okay, if you happen to be my wife, stop reading, put the magazine down, and just walk away. (And please don’t shake your head like that.)
Turns out Chewink is for sale. She is 34 feet long, a custom build from 1970, and made of wood. And she has a single Yanmar diesel linked to a surface drive tucked beneath that swim platform. I have my deck chair all picked out. In short, I have a problem.
Help. I need you to talk me out of buying this boat. Send any advice, notes of support, or even sympathy cards to my wife to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you on the water.