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by Dan Rogers - Diamond Lake, Washington - USA

At risk of descending into a curmudgeonly rant, I'm going to offer a rhetorical question. What's happened?

I had a most unusual day yesterday. It started out-remarkably-with having a major launching ramp at a major "destination" lake all to myself for about an hour. I launched, rigged, loaded, and got Lady Bug underway without anybody else doing similar. The sun had been up for several hours. And, this is MID-JULY. We've had a couple weeks of temps in the upper 80's and above. Granted, the forecast was for strong winds and possible rain. But, still.

Well, there was this one guy, who came in and tied up. I was fascinated by how his vintage Century Resorter dropped from plane and settled into an elegant "lope" as the modest V-8 thrummed a masculine note. Not strident, not shrieky. Just, well, masculine. And, perfectly elegant. He even used proper cleat hitches to make her fast to the float. We discussed the passing of such craft from the scene for a bit. We agreed that the now-long-gone designer had gotten the stem rake just right, the aft quarters perfectly matched, etc. Then, he simply blew me away. He said, "I have the marina guy put it at my dock for me. I only come here two days a year. So, I like to have it waiting for me, so I can use it for those two days."

He may as well have been talking about a rented folding chair at a summer picnic.

So. This renegade from the 60's is just an ornament at a fancy beach house. An "it." A "thing" that only gets to perform for her uninterested master a few hours a year. Well, phooey. A work of art. A piece of history. An incredibly well-created vessel. Not, an "it."

The day progressed about as the weather guys and gals had guessed it would.

An easy reach turned into a rolling run and some dramatic gybes, as one-to-two footers grew into three's with white manes. A steady 15 knots began to box the compass and surge well into the 20's. I only got the pocket anemometer out once, and then only from a seated position in the cockpit. But some of those gusts were pushing 30.

My original "plan" was to sail the length of Priest Lake. I tried that once before this year, and was more or less defeated by an all afternoon mountain thunder storm. But, that was early spring. This is summer. Stuff like this doesn't last-or even happen at all. Anyhow, it was a glorious ride.

Cell phones don't work out there. But, I had told Kate before leaving home that I might be home that night. Or, maybe, a day or two later. It all depended.

So, I was on an adventure. And, I pretty much had that big ol' lake to myself. The mission became one of discovering where the "harbors of refuge" might be in case of similar weather during our upcoming Movable Messabout in just about two months. Granted, this sort of blow doesn't happen all that often. In fact, since I first started coming to Priest Lake about 60 years ago, this was a "first" for me.

Lady Bug is short, heavy, and kinda' slow. An 1,800 pound 16-foot pocket cruiser. Ballast keel, and essentially un-capsizeable. I've finally gotten a decent reefing system working on the home brew beach cat rig. Other than occasional leaps for the sky when crashing over a breaking sea, and my residual fears of losing the stick to a broken shroud, or something like that, she was handling the situation with aplomb. In fact, other than a bit of spray over the bow, we didn't take a drop in the cockpit. Nothing much came unlodged from its perch in the cabin. The boat was doing famously. And, the skipper was doing OK too.

So, we poked in behind several islands and along some protected shore areas. Many of the camping beaches were almost completely calm. Lots of places out there to hole up. Lots of places to stay put in the event of a dirty forecast. Lookin' good.

But, back to my question.

Throughout the day, I passed a number of sailboats. All at moorings. Nobody out. I saw some Hobie's and the like from a distance-people seem to leave them rigged and parked on the beach. But, none of them out there in what would have been a glorious day for those little reaching-rockets. The only boats out, were those ubiquitous "ski boats." You know the ones. Seating for twelve. Freeboard as high as the Love Boat. Drooping snouts, and swim platforms the size of a basketball court. And, blatting exhausts. Most of the ones that passed close aboard were packed with kids in life jackets. Kids and adults, just sort of sitting there, as the boat serenely crested each wave. With minimal gyration, even at the average 30 knot speed of advance. Really big boats, here, 400 miles from any sort of open water.

OK. I was the smallest floating thing out there. Nobody on a Sunfish, pretending to be a destroyer in a typhoon. No kids, pretending to be a voyageur paddling a laden freighter across Lake Superior. Nope. The only ones out were sitting on color-coordinated vinyl, 3 or 4 feet from the water.

What's happened?

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