First published in several Maryland newspapers, 6/2/89
The first overnighter
by Tom Dove
She rests outside, gracefully exposing her lovely curves to the summer sunshine. Her carefully painted features invite you, seeming to say, “Take me out for the weekend and we’ll have a good time.”
Are you ready for that commitment? Are you ready for the responsibility of keeping her safe for two entire days and a night? Are you ready to satisfy her need for direction and sustenance for more than a few hours? Most of all, are your emotions stable enough to support such a relationship?
It has been easy so far – wandering happily around the Bay for an afternoon, perhaps stopping for a few hours to swim or fish. But staying out overnight together for the first time is a different matter. You must be prepared. You both need food and shelter.
If you leave on Saturday morning, you will need lunch and dinner for that day plus breakfast and lunch for Sunday. If you keep lunches simple, sandwiches for example, you will have more time to enjoy each other’s company and the beauty of the water.
Dinner may be the cruiser’s standby, frozen boiling-bag meals, or you may wish to exhibit your culinary expertise with something fancier. I enjoy making strawberry omelets, flambeed in rum. They are special but simple and quick to fix, leaving the rest of the evening for other diversions.
While your body requires frequent feeding, her needs are simple and can be satisfied with a stop at the fuel dock of your local marina.
Finding a quiet, secure spot to stay overnight is of primary importance. It should be secluded but not too isolated, intimate and cozy but not stifling, protected from strong winds but open to gentle cooling southerly breezes.
The ideal anchorage has an easy, well marked entrance, 10 to 15 foot water depth and ample room to swing around your anchor without coming close to other vessels. It has high shoreline to the north and west to block thunderstorms and lower land to the south to admit fair weather breezes. A sandbar or other wave blocking natural feature is desirable to keep the night from being a rock-and-roll party and there should be no marshes nearby with their attendant biting bugs. All of these things are clearly marked on your nautical charts.
On the western side of the Bay, I recommend the creeks off the Severn, Magothy and South Rivers. On the Eastern Shore, consider the upper Chester, Wye and Miles Rivers or the creeks off the Choptank or the Little Choptank.
Stay away from popular rendezvous spots like Whitehall Bay, Rhode River, Fairlee Creek and Shaw Bay for your quiet weekend. Those places are fun with a crowd in a raftup, but this is supposed to be an intimate time for you to get to know your new partner. The gin and generators of adjacent parties would be a distraction.
She is hardier than you and will spend the weekend uncovered, but you will need clothing and protection from the hot sun. Remember your sunglasses, hat and sunscreen lotion. Burned skin will destroy the joy of the evening. Remember to take insect spray and repellent.
Discreetly check to see that all her parts are in proper order, too. A well-polished skin is not enough; she must have good equipment including an anchor with chain and line, running and anchor lights, insect screens and current charts.
Then, launch and let your imagination go. Take her out for !the weekend and have a good time.
— The End —