These are strange days. The Miami boat shows, where well over 100,000 of us gathered and celebrated what seemed like a runaway train of success, seem like a lifetime ago. The calendar says they were barely two months back.
Today, it’s another gorgeous spring afternoon here in New York City. The daffodils and crocuses that pushed though the soil a few weeks ago are a welcome bellwether of spring. Biscuit, the family pooch, and I have returned from our regular noontime amble. She chased a few pigeons and then paused to look up at a sparrow. Birdsong filled the air, and little else could be heard.
I followed her lead to the wider sidewalks, where she sniffed the grass around the Belgian blocks and kept a keen eye out for other pedestrians and their dogs. We give a wide berth, often walking down the middle of the street for blocks at a time to avoid coming too close to others.
My sunglasses fog up often — wearing a mask (in my case, a fly-fishing buff) that covers one’s mouth and nose will do that — but there’s little to no traffic in our small corner of Brooklyn, or in most of the city. The skies, generally crisscrossed with a cavalcade of jets from Gotham’s busy airports, show nothing but a bluebird hue.
Our walks were, at one time, daily meditations for me. Getting me away from the laptop often allowed for journalistic inspirations to burst forth, and for issues to be walked off and worked out. And these walks still are that.
But now they are also more therapeutic. They’re a much-needed break from my housebound family — my college-age son and my daughter are both home from shuttered schools. And my wife has joined the fray, juggling parental duties and homework help with Zoom meetings and email pings — she’s a school social worker, and she’s busier than ever. Bluetooth headphones that let me move to my own space have become my work MVP.
Even more so, my walks with Biscuit offer a temporary reprieve from the torrent of bad news. The coronavirus pandemic continues to pin us to the ropes, and the body shots keep coming. I long ago stopped my hourly, quick perusals of the Dow Jones average and the Johns Hopkins University covid-19 resource page. The anxiousness and dread that followed were not conducive to sharing a small space with a family that’s worried about our immediate and long-term future.
Within the marine industry, it seemed as if there were daily reports of halted production and furloughed workforces. But like my Biscuit, many leaders in the marine industry didn’t falter. They instead carried on and led the way, recognizing an ability to contribute to the fight. Quiet boatbuilding facilities began to fire up, with many donating much-needed supplies, from Tyvek suits to N95 masks, by the truckload.
In these pages, we cover the work that Tige Boats, Mustang Survival, Correct Craft and others are doing to repurpose their facilities in the fight against covid-19. These companies and many others are using their manufacturing acumen and supply chains to fast-track critical supplies to the front lines. They’re putting design plans online, too, so others can follow suit.
Marine associations are doing their part as well, providing critical insight and resources to help dealers and manufacturers make sense of how to move forward via online toolkits, webinars and more. Both the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas are kicking into overdrive, and their work continues to be updated.
We also cover our issue’s theme — the integrated boat — extensively. Today’s system solutions and platforms make it easier than ever for boaters to throw off the lines and enjoy comfort and convenience in even the most remote gunkholes — something that quite a lot of us want to do right now and, hopefully, will want to do when the pandemic’s restrictions ease.
As I walk through the New York City streets, I’m thinking about my favorite secret spot that I hope to get back to when we conquer this virus. It is just off a spit of land in a horseshoe-shaped harbor in the Abacos. It’s a short ride away from an inlet where one can tie a dinghy to a mooring and snorkel amid a wellspring of marine life. I’ve seen brain coral there, and barracuda as long as my arm. I held my breath as curious reef sharks swam overhead.
These are the kinds of memories that I’m keeping in mind and that, hopefully, you are too. Biscuit is side-eying me; it’s time for our next walk. Let those who want to take us all back into the fresh air continue to lead the way.
This article originally appeared in the May 2020 issue.