Meet Tanner. She’s a tough girl from Maine, with pretty lines and a determined attitude. A dusty blue color mates her up nicely with her companion Ben-Varrey, our 1969 Luders 33. A few scratches in the paint and scuffs on the rub rail indicate that she is well-traveled, but all else shows that she is well-loved. She earned her name from the previous owner. Actually, it is the name of the previous owner. It was well marked on her aft seat, and after leaving it there for a few seasons, it grew on us and she is Tanner.
We’ve rowed hundreds of miles together, and she has been along for the ride, cabin top and towed, for thousands more. Some days are picturesque, and she glides effortlessly through a calm sea, and other days Tanner fights for every inch through gnarling chop. She always delivers and is right there with us, working hard through each new adventure.
In our home port of New Bedford, we share the harbor with other rowing dinghies. We even have the pleasure of frequently crossing paths with traditional and replica rowing whaleboats: five people pulling hard together, with a long sweeping oar trailing aft from the hand of the boat steerer. The steerer’s other hand is sure to give a friendly wave as we exchange pleasantries. In some instances, I’m on those whaleboats, and it is a similar exchange with someone else.
As we have sailed north and cruised through Maine waters, rowing dinghies become even more abundant and passing by others is an opportunity to get to know one another or exchange helpful information. Once Tanner even had a free lobster tossed her way just because we could have that nice conversation.
Rowing provides connection with the ocean. It brings you close to the water, in sync with the rhythm of the waves, and forces the pull of each arm to balance with the wind abeam of the hull. You can hear and smell the sea around you. It is not a disruption to the nature, but rather a part of it, which allows you to take it all in.