The wooden-boat subset of the cruising community draws a strange strain of human, indeed; my partner, Rick Martell, owner of Land's End, seems to thrive on the pain of depriving us of sailing time just as much as he enjoys letting our egos feed off the occasional perfectly varnished episode. I'd gotten so high off one of them-a weeklong cruise from Newport to Martha's Vineyard and back-that it's the hook from which I've been hanging most of my cruising fantasies of late. What a sail we'd had: On the last night, we pulled into Tarpaulin Cove, at Naushon, in the Elizabeth Islands, amid an eclectic fleet of classics and schooners in a cove laden with the sharp, magic angle of setting sun. That was nothing compared to the bagpipe soliloquy that floated in, shortly after, from the other end of the anchorage. It droned from the foredeck of Mandate, a Swan 47 that longtime owners John and Betsie Cumming were taking from Nova Scotia to Grenada. "The pipes sound better the farther away you are," John joked during a cockpit visit I made after rowing the sturdy Lizard their way.