I take a lot of pictures, especially on the boat. It’s March on Lake Michigan as I write this and the marina opens for the season in two weeks. It’s like a countdown to Christmas for us big kids here on the 43rd parallel who only have a seven-month boating window locally, so I’m getting jumpy. Looking at photos from last year helps prime the pump during those late winter days after the spring commissioning work is (almost) done. I’ve noticed that photos on the boat invariably have three things in common: blue water, blue sky and people you want to be around. Blue, blue and you.
Take a moment to appreciate that most people never get to do what we do. Our boats provide freedoms that are not available to most people. The prospect of waking up in the morning and heading out to a place where all one sees is blue water and blue sky is a pleasure reserved almost exclusively for us. For most, it’s a prospect as far-fetched as boarding a spaceship with Elon Musk and blasting into orbit. But by mid-morning many of us can be 40 miles from humanity on a boat, if we want. Just the blue, blue and you. Nobody does this but us.
One of my favorite blue, blue and you days took place five years ago. My family and I were gathered aboard a friend’s 50-foot express coupe on a late July afternoon. We ran the boat on Lake Michigan to a point 20 miles off Milwaukee on a day when the seas were sparkling and flat. Lake Michigan is pristine, unsalted and shark-free. Once land was out of sight, the skipper throttled back, took the engines out of gear and shut them off. For 20 blissful minutes the seven of us floated free, surrounded by a silent, endless universe of deep blue water and bright blue sky. Sufficiently inspired, one of the ladies in the group jumped overboard and swam a lap around the boat. Laying one’s head down on the pillow after a day like that is a gift. Who else gets to do this but us?
Fast forward a couple of years and I’m crossing Lake Michigan with my family on our Tiara By Design, headed to a rendezvous on Mackinac Island. On that day the blue-on-blue horizon was so sharp it almost Lasiked my eyes through my polarized sunglasses. In front of me on the flybridge was my young son and his dog, both relaxing in the man-made 22-knot breeze. The right music seemed to come on at the right time. A memory, forged by fire and water, was born.
As a species we’re drawn to the water, but not everyone gets to fulfill their primal urges the way we do. But why are we drawn to the water? Why does being on the water set our minds at ease? A book was published a few years ago by a marine biologist who addresses these questions. Its subtitle is: “The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, Or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.” It made the New York Times Best Seller list.
The book addresses current neuroscience and compelling personal stories from elite athletes, military veterans and gifted artists. This column isn’t a book review, but in brief they all agree that as boat people we’re doing something right by heading out on the deep blue every chance we get. So I’m planning to keep it up.
Our launch date is a mere 21 days away. The home-grown crew and I have more than enough to do before By Design is ready for her 2022 adventures. But by the time you read this we’ll be back on the big blue, making memories with friends, old and new. If you happen to join us, I’ll be taking lots of photos of blue, blue and you.