Southbound on Memory Lane

A letter from the editor about Cruising World’s September issue

southbound lane
For some, it’ll soon be time to join like-minded cruisers in the southbound lane. De Visu/

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As the summer season tacks to fall projects and cool-weather cruising up North, I’m sorely reminded, living here in the sweltering tropical clime of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, about just how much I miss those changing seasons. I grew up carving through the bewitching waters of coastal New England, and my fond recollections of those early sailing experiences have only grown stronger with time. The fall was my favorite season, spawning a kaleidoscope of memories I’ll always treasure, particularly at times when I’m breaking a South Florida sweat while stuck in neutral waiting for the next bridge opening.  

I remember the crisp Connecticut River sunrises, sitting cozily in the cockpit in some snug anchorage, inhaling the cool morning mist while warming my hands with a fresh cup of coffee just handed up from the galley. Exhale. 

I remember savoring picture-perfect backdrops of brilliant fall foliage painting the shoreline a cloak of reds, oranges and yellows from aboard our 31-foot Hunter Ragtime as we skimmed along at 6 knots on a beam reach on a chilly north breeze.  

In our little cruising community, the main event around Labor Day every year was the Newport International Boat Show. For a kid who had fallen in love with sailing, it was a date I’d always circle on my calendar months in advance. I can still picture the flags flapping in the northerly as I scoured all the vendor booths, adding ideas to my personal wish list for Ragtime. I’d also acquire as many nautical tchotchkes as my tote bag would hold, much to the chagrin of my parents, who would generally end up schlepping that heavy thing around for the much of the show. 

Decades later, I still get a twinge of excitement when I head up to Newport. Today, my bag contains cameras, business cards and plenty of copies of Cruising World, but the wonderment remains the same. 

For many of you, as it was for my family back in the day, the Newport show signals the beginning of the end of another summer cruising season, a time when float plans change to haul-out plans for the winter. For some, however, it’s time to stock up, shake down and join likeminded snowbirds in the southbound lanes of the high seas and the Intracoastal Waterway. 

Billy Pilgrim
Ready or not, Billy Pilgrim heads south, seen here taking advantage of a fresh north wind on Long Island Sound. Tim Murphy

It’s not always as easy as casting lines and stabbing southward. I recall that Ragtime’s first southbound autumn adventure included an exasperating medley of headaches, from freak groundings to frozen dock lines. But, as any experienced sailor knows, there are always moments of bliss that make the journey worthwhile. 

In this issue, we hear from a few veteran yachtsmen about their recent southern-oriented endeavors, beginning on page 18 with the emotional and logistical journey of CW editor-at-large Tim Murphy, and his mate Lesley Davison. After slogging through a summer of upgrade projects, they finally decided to set out just as the first cold northeasterlies began to blow. They encountered plenty of surprises along the way. 

Built by the Independent Seaport Museum in Philadelphia in 2009, the 33-foot catboat Silent Maid explores the Lowcountry. Courtesy Sam Norwood

Also in the issue, Hall of Fame sailor and CW editor-at-large Gary Jobson takes a catboat cruise through the Lowcountry, where he finds the competitive racing spirit to be alive and well. And, CW editor-at-large Herb McCormick recounts his latest sailing adventure: joining a cast of colorful characters in the Grenadines on a clandestine training expedition for an impending voyage to the Arctic. 

Other September issue highlights include navigating French Polynesia; hands-on tips for inspecting, maintaining and possibly replacing chainplates; and DIY advice on oil changes and filter replacement. On Watch columnist Cap’n Fatty Goodlander reveals a few dirty little truths about bilges, and we’ll also step foot aboard a couple of notable new launches: the Beneteau Oceanis 34.1 and the Elan GT6. 

Elan GT6
The September cover features an Elan GT6, reviewed by Herb McCormick in our New to the Fleet column. Courtesy Elan Yachts

The September issue is in mailboxes and available at newsstands now. If you don’t have one, grab one. If you’re not currently a subscriber, I hope you’ll consider becoming one. On behalf of the Cruising World crew, thanks for reading. As always, don’t hesitate to let us know your thoughts.

With another fall boat show season revving up, I hope you’ll allocate a little time to rekindle your own sense of wonderment on the docks. Grab a few magazines and some tchotchkes, and see what’s new and cool out there. 

And if you’re among those who plan to extend your cruising season and head south for the winter, come find me in Newport from September 15-18 during the show. I’ll happily recommend a few great watering holes where you can stop along the coast. —Andrew Parkinson, editor-in-chief

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