My first contact (literally) with sailing was on a warm October evening in 2000. Under a beautifully moonlit sky, I stepped into Collin's boat shop and stared silently up at a substantial stranger--Galene. I remember walking under the hull and tracing a line with my finger in the dust just below the waterline, a smile spreading across my face as I realized what we had in common--neither of us had ever sailed, ever.

Though it hardly seems fair, I made it onto the water first. In a rush of days, weeks, months, and now, years, I moved from our little dinghy on the nearby freshwater pond, to my father in law's 30' racing boat off the coast of Maine. As quickly as I had been

taken by the boatbuilder (well almost as quickly) I found myself taken by boats. I was more than a bit surprised to discover my own genuine enthusiasm for life on the water, and knowing Collin's hard-wired connection to all things that float, I was also quite relieved (faking it for 40 years would have been tough).

Without any prior experience, learning came slowly. My early boatbuilding experiences were memorable. In the shop, assisting on my first vacuum bag, I worried "Won't this ruin the vacuum cleaner?" On the water, a strange new language was spoken that I did not understand, and there was much work for which I seemed sadly undersized. Fortunately, boats and boatbuilders are patient. I discovered the winch, and I found my own strength. I even learned how to swim! And as I watched and worked and learned, I loved it. Everything was just fine.

Now, I too have a "Life In Boats" to reflect on. Even when it seems like yesterday that I stepped into this man's life and out onto the water, there is also an absolute feeling of constancy, with an emerging boat and a future afloat. But as I watch Collin work, lost in the clarity and concentration of his labor of love, I don't see him as I did in the beginning**. Against the backdrop of the boat shop, I see Collin with Galene whole. It is a beautiful sight. And when he lifts his head, looks up at me and smiles, I know he has new eyes too.

**Though I sometimes still find myself shouting, "Are you NUTS?"

I inadvertantly captured my first lesson in "one hand for the ship" during a boisterous passage in the Whitsunday Islands, Australia.