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From the Pilothouse - Back In The Groove

Boomer lies heavily against my side, pushing me into the side of the hull as she stretches her length across the V-berth. Laurene is quietly rolled up on her side, invisible under the covers, unaffected by our golden retriever's need for continuous physical contact.

We spent the first night on our boat, having come down to the yard for a couple of days of getting to know the new Growler. The construction is complete, but like any new yacht, it has its share of last minute details. Commissioning a new boat is the same story everywhere: some are easier than others, but each involves details and troubleshooting systems.

Even though I'm on boats all the time I have not had much time for one of my own these last several years. But life is short and I've felt the need for some quality time on my own.

Like new owners everywhere, Laurene and I experienced a mix of emotions the last couple of days, from feeling overwhelmed with information overload to the joy of waking up this morning in the boat, looking around from my bunk at the little details of craftsmanship surrounding me.

We made our first meal aboard last night, and while it came together I was fascinated to see how the three of us got around in the small space of a cruising boat. I seemed to move around constantly, putting things away, looking into spaces to learn the boat, while Laurene and Boomer did their thing nearby. It will take some time to get settled in.

I have some feeling it's time to stir, as someone from the yard will be down to begin another day of tweaking within the hour. Even though we're the new owners, I don't think it would be appropriate to stay in bed while people work on the boat.

Stretching over so slowly that I don't disturb the lump of golden fur beside me—which now emits a deep rythmic snoring from somewhere deep in dog dreamland—I twist my legs over her as gymnastically as I can at my age.

Growler is really quiet at this hour in the still waters around Mathews, Virginia, home of Zimmerman Marine. Yet quiet is not the same as silet, as the hum of the refrigerator and inverter shows that the boat is in fact very much alive. I love our home in Annapolis, but it is part of the land world. A cruising boat is much more alive, with heart and soul of which owners and crew become part. There is little else I've done in life that so inspires as being on a boat.

As this point in time, Growler is perfect for us, as our life commitments and demands don't allow a premier, full-bodied passaemaker for long distance cruising. That will have to wait. But I'm not complaining, as the simplicity of a smaller boat is still complex enough for my limited time and energy.

And with all that's happening around here, time is definitely short supply. I'm sad to say that Tricia has left us, deciding to move to Hawaii, as she joins the U.S. Navy. Well that's not entirely true—she got married to a submariner officer stationed at the pearl. But she's definitely joined the Navy family. I wish her luck in her new life.

Replacing Tricia is Allison Ball, a crackerjack editor with both wit and charm, who serves ably as my right hand while I continue to boat the world. You'll no doubt meet her at one of the shows.

The Bahamas Pokie Run is fast approaching, and by the time you read this, I'll be snorkeling in crystal clear water and enjoying some relaxed cruising with new friends in our fleet of boats. We're rushing to complete our outfitting efforts, and it somehow all fits aboard, even if I can't recall where everything is stowed.

Oops, the water is boiling, and it's time for grind some Starbucks coffee. That means Boomer is sure to be up soon, wanting her first breakfast in her new cruising home. So where did we store those coffee filters?

I've never anticipated a new boat as much as Growler, and now that she's real, I can tell you I'm definitely feeling back in the groove.

See you on the water.

Bill Parlatore