In our editorial meetings over the years, we have often spent at least a few fruitless minutes talking about how great it would be if the magazine had its own boat. We'd fantasize how we could just trot down to a nearby dock and shove off, any one of us, for whatever reason—to see the start of some big regatta, say, or zip across the Bay to Rock Hall to check out a new restaurant, or zip down to Solomons for the Whatsahoozit Crab Festival, or get pictures of some lovely Cruise of the Month gunkhole, or just to goof off on a sunny Friday afternoon, which we boating magazine editors are in fact contractually obligated to do at least once a month between April 1 and November 1.
Oh sure, between us we have a few small sailboats . . . but, let's face it, nobody "zips" anywhere in a sailboat. Senior editor Jody Schroath and our wandering minstrel Jane Meneely in particular put theirs to good use, but we could also use a good zipper or two, to extend our range. In fact (this is where the fantasy inevitably goes), what we really need is a fleet of company boats—a cruising powerboat, maybe a little center-console for quick jaunts and photo shoots, plus a good-size cruising sailboat, and (lest we forget the contractually obligated Friday-afternoon goof-offs) maybe even a daysailer or two. At this point in the conversation all eyes turn to me and someone asks, "So . . . who should we talk to about that?" Or words to that effect. To which I reply, "Uh, I don't know. Does anyone have a fairy godmother? . . . Because that's what it'll take." Or words to that effect. Well, I'm here to tell you that we've found our fairy godmother, so to speak. That is, we now have a fleet of boats at our beck and call—because we are bona fide card-carrying members of the Chesapeake Bay Boating Club here in Annapolis.
Club boating, for lack of a more canonical term, appears to be an idea whose time has come. Indeed it's the subject of an article I've been working on for early 2010. The research for that led me very quickly to two robust club-boating businesses on the Bay—Chesapeake Boating Club and Carefree Boating—both of which maintain sizeable fleets of boats that are available to their members (annual fees being in the $3,000 to $7,000 range, roughly, depending on the specifics).
Either club would have worked for me, but we ultimately signed on with CBC, following the time-honored business sacrament of "I know a guy who knows a guy." We'll tell you more about both clubs, and any others we find around the Bay, in our article this winter. And in the meantime you'll see that we've wasted no time putting our CBC membership to good use. I used Venture, one of the club's three sturdy Albin 28s, for my "Chesapeakeology 101" story in this issue [see page 30]. And I'll be using her again next week for a story that'll run in the spring.
Okay, it wasn't we who wasted no time; it was I. But since when is it a crime to have one's wishes all lined up and ready for the fairy godmother?