The Empty Dock

by Steve on August 30, 2011

It started last summer with a boat named Merlin. Going to the lake became a sort of addiction fed by mahogany, speed, and raw horse-power. Then Liz showed up followed shortly thereafter by the big boy, Patriot. It was a privilege to help my friend and fellow addict keep his fleet afloat and properly exercised. There were a couple of occasions where we had all three boats running down the lake in formation. Each would turn heads on its own merits but all three together was a vision from the past. If you happened to witness one of these appearances I hope you had a camera handy because their Lake Martin home has changed hands – the fleet will be headed to south Florida.

For those of you who have never had the opportunity to run a wooden race boat at wide open throttle, I can’t adequately describe the thrill. Simply put, I’m ruined for boating for a while. Luckily the season is about over.

I suffered a similar performance let-down when I left the Navy, specifically carrier aviation, and took to the skies in a Cessna 172. Nothing against the engineers at Cessna – there’s just no aspect of general aviation that can even begin to live up to the adrenalin rush of a cat shot or night trap.

So how do you cruise the lake in plastic or tin when you’ve spent the summer skimming the surface in varnished mahogany pushed to the limit by 550 horses?

I’ve only flown a handful of times in the last 18 years but the sight of a grey jet pitching out of the clouds still gets a grin. The boats won’t be quite as difficult but they will be missed and I know where they live!


It began with Merlin and appropriately ended the same way. In preparation for the move south, Patriot and Liz had already been hauled out so our last weekend with dear friends on the lake was spent enjoying Merlin together. A cold front had pushed the heat south and with school back in session, the lake was peaceful. The hiss of the wake, the rumble of the exhaust, the warm glow of sunset reflecting off the mahogany deck – the lake just won’t be the same.

{ 1 comment }

DonaldMac August 30, 2011 at 20:00

It’s much the same way with small sailboats; you start with a monohull, like the Sunfish or Sailfish.

Your happy. Until one decent wind day a friend offers to take you for a ride in a cat. And teaches you how to fly a hull, and ride the wire.

Then your hooked.

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