Ode to a Boat

I want to tell you the story of my boat because she is special to me, like a longtime friend.

She doesn’t have a name, though I call her My Obsession, so, we’ll call her that too. She’s a real beauty. A Dynasty bow-rider that can seat eight comfortably. She can pull a skier or a tuber, and she can open up to 54 miles an hour.

My Obsession turned 30 this summer, and she is still proud to look nearly as sweet as she did when she was first manufactured in 1987. That’s when I met My Obsession, but she wasn’t my obsession back then, she was my dad’s.

Let me back up a minute. I was 24 in 1987, but I learned how to drive a boat when I was 8. We had a summer home on Lake Winnisquam, New Hampshire, and, except for my mother, my whole family was a family of boaters. So, when my dad deemed me old enough, he taught me how to operate the Evinrude that was on our aluminum rowboat. I had to prime and choke the engine, and pull-start it, and I’ll tell you, there is nothing like bringing a motor to life to make you feel like a big shot.

I got to drive my little boat wherever I wanted on Winnisquam, and my best friend Sarah, who was often with me, would ride with me up to Mosquito Bridge, where we’d grab the mail at the post office and buy milk at the general store. The boat gave us freedom and independence.

At 14, my dad taught me how to drive his Glastron, a speedboat like My Obsession, and sadly, I forgot all about my little aluminum boat. I loved the power that came with speed, and I stood taller behind the wheel of the Glastron. Sarah and I still got the mail in it, and we’d drive it over to our friends’ house as well.

In ’87, my dad bought the Dynasty brand new, and I had the privilege of driving her whenever I visited. I also had responsibilities as well. I helped my dad clean it at the end of the season. And on vacation, I was the one who’d lead the boat on foot, wading in deep water, to the mooring in front of our property; this is where the boat stayed in bad weather.

In those moments in which I led the boat, I felt somewhat like a jockey, leading a horse to the starting gate, and I had to restrain myself from rubbing the boat’s bow, as if it was a nose. She felt like a friend even back then, just following me wherever I would lead her—whether I was pulling her by the bow line or racing her around, the teak wheel in my hands.

When my parents sold the lake house about six years ago, my father gave My Obsession to me. She likes the Connecticut River and has adapted well to boating in a current. She loves racing along the shore in areas where we know it’s good and deep, and she likes hosting friends and family and drifting downstream.

On my last day out on My Obsession this summer, I pulled her bow up on a stretch of sand adjacent to the Meadows in Northampton  and sat still for an hour or so. I loved the sound of the waves that came in and lapped the shore, creating a crescendo before the sound died down. There’s a certain smell I love out on the water—like plant matter and steam mixed with gasoline. It’s a sweet, sweet smell for me, and I drank it in.

Then, I said goodbye to the river, and I met my boyfriend Mark at the marina. We pulled My Obsession out on her trailer and washed her up nice. We left her in a field and will soon take her to the barn where she spends the winters. I didn’t restrain myself that day as I said goodbye. I gave her a little pat on her bow lights and thanked her for another great summer.

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