The heat of late July had settled into every crevice and shadow in the urban canyons of Manhattan. Just when I thought it was too late to escape, the invitation came through the mail slot on a salt-tinged zephyr: “Join us on Nantucket.” I had been saved by the kind folks at Hinckley, who hosted a rendezvous for their owners at Nantucket Boat Basin. A ferry ride later, I strolled down the docks from Straight Wharf and into a Down East fashion show—the Best-Dressed Hinckley Contest on Saturday afternoon. More than 20 Hinckley yachts—both power and sail—wore their grandest finery. Judges moved from boat to boat, sometimes accepting proffered refreshments from the boat crews to ward off the effects of the humidity—and the heated competition.
The judging was secondary, as owners paid visits to each other’s yachts, comparing notes on layouts, features, and new models. The discussions about performance and seakeeping led to the sharing of sea stories: mostly averted crises told with hearty, if thankful, laughter. I asked a small gathering of owners about hull colors, since most of the boats in attendance seemed to be navy blue. Little did I know I would touch off a debate that veered from wistful mentions of hunter green and claret hulls and the challenges of selecting flag blue. Someone piped up that there is a white one somewhere.
As the sun blissfully passed behind a cloud, I looked up to see an iron-gray fault line in the sky, moving toward us and dropping the occasional flash of lightning. We ran for cover in the RopeWalk, and watched the clouds open up from the back bar. The squall blew through and we were back to the docks within the hour.
That evening, Hinckley hosted a dinner at the Brant Point Grill at the White Elephant, with cocktails on the lawn with a view of the harbor and private dining area. After the guests enjoyed a sumptuous meal of steak and swordfish, accompanied by laughter and the camaraderie of fellow owners, Jim McManus, president of Hinckley, tossed out trivia questions about the company and gave some insight into what we could expect from them in the future.
The next day, a quick run by the docks found some owners seemed intent on getting a jump on the run home while others clearly intended to linger for the day. After all, the heat in the city hasn’t abated yet. I headed for my ferry, ticket in hand.