The Mast-Head: Evening Stillness

Nights like this always puzzle me

Sunday night I was out in my boat on Gardiner’s Bay as the moon appeared over the Hither Hills highlands. It was a still evening, no wind to speak of, and only a little ripple under the hull as I passed the bluffs at the old Bell Estate, where the Clintons are staying for a couple of weeks.

Nights like this always puzzle me. So calm, so beautiful, and yet so few vessels on the water. There were no signs of the former president and former secretary of state or their security team, either. A single blue-hulled cabin cruiser lay at anchor off the Accabonac Harbor channel buoy. Another, smaller boat made its way northwest, and in the distance, a sloop was tucked up off Gardiner’s Island for the night.

It had been a long day, beginning for me with a fuel line problem that cut the outboard engine in the middle of the Three Mile Harbor breakwaters. On an incoming tide, I let the boat drift back onto a clam flat where I climbed overboard and worked it back to the dock, half walking, half swimming, with a line attached to the bow.

Back at the slip, talking through the boat’s problems with Palmer Smith, who keeps a runabout next to mine, the repair suddenly became obvious. I had the part I needed, and before too long I was on my way again.

My plan had been to run the boat up on the beach near our house as the tide switched around midday. Only a bit behind schedule, I managed to do so by lunch. That afternoon, as the hull sat dry on the sand, I took care of what needed to be done and waited for the bay to come in again. It did, while I was not watching, the way people say a pot won’t boil when it is being watched.

I had gone up to the house for something or other, and when I returned the boat had swung on its anchor line and was floating, swimming distance from the shore, in the light southwest wind. We were under way shortly thereafter.