It had to have been a dark day in January when a “Save the Date” card arrived for the Grand Banks Rendezvous, May 10-13, at Roche Harbor Marina on San Juan Island in the Puget Sound. I’m sure I looked at the photograph like I was looking at another life, long ago and far away. Nevertheless I posted the card on the kitchen wall, and last week we packed up, grabbed a good friend and our dog and headed out.
First I should explain that my husband has had two expressions of mid-life crisis that I know of, one is a silver Boxster Porsche, and the other, a 36’ Grand Banks trawler. One is speedy and the other, slow. Boating has so capsized our world, we are beginning to dream of living on the boat in all the summer months of our retirement. Cares are left on land and water becomes an elixir. But that’s another story. The one I want to tell now is of the annual Grand Banks Rendezvous, which is fast becoming more fun than college reunions. More fun than anything.
People from all over–Aspen, Philadelphia, and somewhere in Texas, as well as some of our own neighbors in Seattle— keep their boats in the Puget Sound. Grand Banks owners tend to be former sailors who have moved onto something that is a little less work. This sets everyone apart from other stinkpot owners, or so we like to think. Grand Banks slip in and out as quietly as kayaks. And while many other boats are designed to be condos at sea, there is something so outdoorsy and friendly about the Grand Banks. Like a row of front porches tied up to the dock.
That’s the nostalgic quality of both the boat and Roche Harbor, which has to be one of my favorite spots on planet earth. For me Roche Harbor is reminiscent of The Bandbox, a big music hall on a small lake in my childhood in Connecticut. For my husband, it’s the Catalina Casino building, where he summered. Everyone has someplace. It’s sunny, people look healthy, and I think it’s the light. Have I mentioned the whole subculture of children and dogs? Papa may be in an engine class, mama busy mastering navigation, but children are endlessly entertained with a simple fishing pole or just a bucket and a net. In all my times out there, I have yet to hear a baby cry, a child whine, or an adult have a cross word. Everyone is away from cell phones, ipads and computers, and our dogs get a taste of life off-leash.
All my bright colored clothes come out here, I stow them on the boat, all the reds, whites and blues–saving the khakis, blacks, browns, and grays for Seattle. But that down pouring of light, nostalgia, and particular patriotism—with a call to colors at every sunset, saluting the British, Canadian, and American flags and proudly playing all anthems. Here it feels almost like international waters, and it’s rather fun for an old counter-culture girl like me.