Ancient Mariner

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I’ve watched this boat just up the beach for years sit lonely and unused tucked into the grasses on the bluff in front of a cottage, which I can only guess has also been lonely and unused, as it has a for sale sign perched near the steps leading up to it.

captured on 35mm film last fall as she rested

From the boat’s name, I surmise both the boat and the cottage owner to be one of the beach’s older residents, white haired, probably bearded, a seasoned sailor, maybe at a transition in his life where the boat was too much to handle on his own anymore, bringing it up and down from the dwinding beach, rigging the sail, fixing the ropes.

Today as I walked the beach I saw two men rigging her, about to test her in bitter waters and little wind. I asked about the boat and learned that one of them, the owner of a neighboring house, had just bought her and this was about to be his maiden voyage with her.

I didn’t ask, but I wondered if the new owner was going to change her name, as he is definitely not ancient (I don’t know about his mariner status), and may have no connection to the poem. I’m not sure why this makes me so happy, a new owner of this boat and its use after a long rest, but it does–even if the name gets changed. The bluff between the beach and cottages here is dotted with mostly unused small sailboats, Sunfishes and Lasers and Hobies that stand as sentinel to a time before jet skis and kayaks and paddle boards, and most recently, kite boards. The sails are starting to stir again, though.

Things come around.

and the Mariner today


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