On The Cusp

Taking boating out of winter storage.

Reports surfaced that the zodiac would change due to Earth’s shift on its axis, my concern was not for the status of my sign; I don’t care about it, except in cocktail conversations. What I cared about was whether the first day of spring would move forward or backward. Moving spring’s first day later would make me cranky. It would cut into my boating.

Well, maybe not now that I live in Florida, the land of year-round boating, but even so, my personal biological cycles are timed to decades spent in the North, waiting impatiently for weather to warm enough to allow uncovering and de-winterizing the boat. Fortunately, after considerable research, I’ve learned that though astronomers were perfectly happy to yuck it up about shifting the zodiac signs and to throw in a 13th constellation for the consternation of astrologers, they were content to leave spring starting on March 21. My biological ticker relaxed at this news; boating season’s official start date would not fall later in the year.

Spring boating is my favorite boating. The vast expanses of the waters I ply are often as deserted as they were before the advent of the Hudson's Bay Company, whose traders are responsible for mapping much of our continent's interior waters. If you haven't brushed the leaves from your boat, fired the engine and motored to the end of a cove at this time when you are most likely to see a fawn and doe come to the water's edge or hear a turkey gobble in the woods, you should. But don't do it before reading Pete McDonald's story "Cold Play", all about the beauty of boating on the cusp of the season. More importantly, it's about arming you with the tools of survival should something go awry while boating in such complete and beautiful solitude.

As always, the March issue finds Boating's test team in heated debate about the Best Boats offered in the 2011 model year. For a boater who wants to be on the inside track of dockside brand banter, don't miss this feature. But we'll offer this caveat too. At the tail end of this feature's creation, two awesome brands stepped up with boats that we'd love to have considered in this feature. Sea Ray's new 450 Sedan Bridge is a beautiful step forward for the manufacturer and for MerCruiser's Zeus propulsion brand. And Chaparral brought us another cool bowrider, this one with a full sleeping berth below. They're 2012 models and will be in showrooms this summer, and you may just find them on the Boating Best list in 2012.

For now, while you let that winter fire die down in the fireplace and watch the snow melt from your boat, enjoy reading cover to cover and ping me with an e-mail if you feel like chiming in.

Randy Vance, Editor-in-Chief