A scan of the 2021 horizon

David (right) and me several years ago. David’s monthly column slot will, for the foreseeable future, be inhabited by Christopher Birch. Photo by Bob Muggleston

Midwinter 2021

By Bob Muggleston

“I can’t wait to go sailing again.”

Nim Marsh, Points East’s former editor, recently said this to me, and I couldn’t agree more. The events of the last nine months have been distracting in so many ways, mostly, of course, thanks to COVID-19. Beyond the big challenges associated with the pandemic, however, were many smaller ones that last summer I began to refer to as “First-World Problems.” The ability to get out sailing was one such challenge. The yacht club I belong to did a fantastic job ensuring that its grounds wouldn’t further the insidious run of the virus, but what did this look like in practice? Frankly, like the place had been shuttered. One thin slice of dock floated in front of the club’s modest facilities, and anything that might encourage a member to hang out – picnic tables, grills, chairs, etc. – remained chained together in a pile. With so little dockage, and with swimmers and dog owners also jockeying for space, time out there was often at a premium. Since getting a boat into the water and then back out again – most of us keep our boats on trailers at the club – could involve a bit of mayhem, one picked his or her spots carefully. Swimming, not sailing, became the priority for my family, and before I knew it the summer was over.

Again: First-World Problems.

While it’s tough to find a silver lining in the year that just was, there definitely were a few. For me, one was putting this magazine together, and reading about sailing in the absence of actually doing so. A favorite regular contributor of mine has always been David Buckman. David’s had a column in the magazine for nearly 20 years. That’s a long time . . . and so many columns! In that span he also wrote “Bucking the Tide: Making Do and Discovering the Wild New England and Fundy Coast in a $400 Yacht,” a book about his Maine cruising exploits aboard a sawed-off Lightning. It’s one of my favorite sailing books of all time. David was the magazine’s in-house Thoreau – his prose often rose to those lofty heights – and there was always much to admire about the type of cruising he and his wife did aboard Leight, their 26-foot Swedish Folkboat. David recently informed me that he’s taking a sabbatical in order to focus on the writing of his second book. How long? No one knows for sure. Including David.

Alexander Graham Bell once famously said, “When one door closes, another opens,” and in this vein I’d like to announce that, beginning with this issue, we’ve tapped long-time contributor Christopher Birch to take David’s slot. Christopher runs a yacht-service business in downtown Boston that’s headquartered on a small barge. In addition to being a fine writer he has many, many great sailing stories and is busy creating new ones aboard Sundance, his Morris Justine 36. Christopher is a wonderful photographer, loves dogs, and has a great sense of humor. I think he’s going to be a great addition to the magazine. We’re calling his column “Boston Harbor Currents.” I hope you’ll turn to page 46 to read his first piece.

Regardless of what happens in 2021, more than ever I’m excited to be at the helm of Points East. For whatever reason, and it’s probably not too hard to fill in the blanks, many of you got busy writing last year. The volume and quality of content I received in 2020 is pretty amazing. What this means is that the pages of Points East in 2021 will be even more lively and informative (as if it were even possible!).

Finally, kudos to the Points East reader. Last year was not especially kind to this industry, but thanks to an avid readership – and, of course, an incredibly stalwart cadre of advertisers – the good ship Points East somehow remains afloat. This level of support is something we’ll never take for granted.

This year, let’s walk through newly opened doors.

And, of course, go sailing.