AT THE HELM
BY MARGARET BONDS PODLICH, BOATU.S. PRESIDENT
When we think of all the great times we have on our boats, rarely do we give a second thought to our unappreciated dinghies. Yet they transport us here and there and often take a beating doing so. The inflatables forgive us our docking sins; the hard dinghies deliver us our exercise. And all of them bestow on our
kids and grandkids endless amounts of fun.
When I was a child, the dinghy was the epicenter of adventures. When my family was
summer cruising, my brother was tasked with ferrying our dog to the beach a few times a
day. Given the logistics of dragging an unwilling 60-pound basset hound from the cockpit
down to a low, unstable hard dinghy, I was often recruited to help. Once ashore, we had
wonderful times wandering the rocky beaches, free from our parents. At our home marina,
we’d spend days rowing around, creating our own rough charts with depths, pulling old
masts and anchors from the bottom, and simply messing about.
In junior high, during our family boat delivery down the East Coast, my brother and I
had enough of our parents. So while transiting the protected C&D Canal, we each grabbed
a snack and a book, climbed into the dinghy being towed astern, and blissfully rode along
for an hour. It restored our humor and undoubtedly gave the adults well-needed quiet time.
Years later, when we’d be at anchor, our daughter showed us her rowing skills while on
a long tether until we agreed that, yes, she really could navigate on her own. What soaring freedom she felt that day! This time as the adult, I felt a parental twinge as that little
dinghy provided Sophie with the first sparks of real independence.
A few months ago, I met some fellow sailors for a weekend race out on Lake
Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, the beautiful state that had taught me downhill skiing many moons ago. This time, an inflatable puttered over the crisp, crystal-blue water,
amidst the hundreds of shades of green in the trees
and foliage. New Hampshire was reminding me
to drink in the drama of a spectacular freshwater
arena. Duffel bag in hand, not a care in the world, I
could look ahead to where our race boats lay waiting on their moorings while also soaking in my
surroundings. As often in my life, it was a dinghy
that was whisking me off to a new adventure.
This month, on page 70, check out our feature
on the care and feeding of your dinghy to learn
how to tow it, load it, and be safe in it. Enjoy
Your ticket to ride
BOATU. S. CHAIRMAN & FOUNDER
BOATU.S. PRESIDEN T
Margaret Bonds Podlich
CONSULTING EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Michael Vatalaro
MANAGING EDITOR Rich Armstrong
ASSISTAN T MANAGING EDITOR
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Mark Corke
CONSUMER EDITOR Charles Fort
EDITOR AT-LARGE Tom Neale
John Adey, Ann Dermody
Ryck Lydecker, Tim Murphy
Troy Gilbert (Gulf Coast)
Melanie Neale (Florida)
Patricia Rains (West Coast)
Dan Armitage (Great Lakes)
BOATU. S. MEDIA, OFFICE COORDINATOR
MEDIA ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
PROOFREADER John Wilson
Rick Kelvington, Marcus Floro
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VOLUME XXII, No. 5, OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016