Friday, November 5, 2010


"November always seemed to me the Norway of the year."


Hauling a boat is a ritual that I often try to postpone. When the calendar reaches November, a strain of denial seems to overtake me. I become convinced that there will be plenty of warm days ahead. I try to remind myself of the years when I sailed on Thanksgiving weekend. A few peppers still growing in the garden reinforce this delusion. Unfortunately, the calendar and the thermometer do not lie. Sailors, like aging starlets and men with bad combovers, need to acknowledge the passing of time.

The sail from Noank to the Connecticut River boatyard is an easy one. It is the preparations that are most consuming. I needed to make sure the yard had a dock space available. I also had to make arrangements for getting back to Noank to retrieve my car. Finally I had to dig through my bedroom closet for gloves, a wool hat, and the rest of my winter wardrobe. A gentle autumn day on land can sometimes feel like January just a few miles from the shoreline.

November is lonely on the water. An occasional commercial boat is the only other vessel you may see. The shoreline in the distance seems deserted too. Gone are the crowds that flocked to these beaches just six weeks ago. Waterfront homes that overflowed with guests, look empty and silent. Their awnings and Adirondack chairs have been removed from the lawn. Only an occasional whiff from a fireplace tells you that someone is home. A lighthouse that seemed like a quaint image for artists and tourists in June, becomes a utilitarian navigation aid in November.

November is also a sad month on the water. No matter how enjoyable the time might be, you know the days are numbered. This year is no different, as my day is spent looking back in time, rather than forward. I think of my trip to the Thimble Islands, and a starry night anchored in West Harbor. Any sort of thought to suppress my approaching winter ashore. The seasons of the year have come full circle.

I arrived in Saybrook without a hitch, and made my way to the train station the next morning.

It was a spectacular fall day with sunny skies and temperatures in the 60's. As the train passed through Niantic, Long Island Sound came into full view. There were several boats in the distance, taking advantage of the lovely weather. For a brief moment, I started thinking that I should drive back to Saybrook and take one more sail. There would certainly be enough time, and it would be a shame to waste such a nice day.
Eventually I realized that this would not be possible since I had already removed the sails from the boat. My sailing season was over, and there was no way to delay its inevitable end.

But in spirit, it never ends.
This was originally posted in November 2008; but I had no readers then.


Baydog said...

Just what you said, Matthew!

Bursledon Blogger said...


you're right on the money - the low sun at this time of year seems to bring the sky closer to the sea a great time to be on the boat but bitter sweet with winter looming large.

Karen said...

really nice post Matt. I no longer sail but remember the feeling you described oh so's a very bittersweet nice of year for sure.

Mari said...

Back in 2009...
I don't think I was a "legitimate reader", like you would say...I wrote this. I really like the comment my sister left. It made me smile.

it seems like I have an appointment I don't want to go to...I always feel unprepared.

Henry said...

"This was originally posted in November 2008; but I had no readers then."

As I read this one I was sure I'd read it before, and I have!
Hope you're doing well.

Brenda's Arizona said...

This is very haunting. "November is lonely on the water." So descriptive! Thank you for 'repeating' this post!

Helen Bennett Harvey said...

I love this post - I can recall going to haul a boat and having it snow - and such great images you evoke Matt!