In the first light of day, before even the dawn, they come.
Down to the base of the dune cliffs, down to the sea’s edge, they come.
They come as men have always come, to go down to the sea in small boats.
These boats, the Dorys, and these men, the Dorymen, go to sea in the old way, the way boats and men have always done, directly into the sea, directly over the surf.
It is a dance of the sea, of the boat and of the men.
The boat is held until just the precise moment when there is time to shove out, start the motor and best the waves.
The waiting for that perfect moment is long, and the waters very, very cold.
On shore, the old men and the wives left behind wait as well. Waiting for that perfect moment, that tiny window of safety between the crashing surf.
They know, but do not want to remember, that a mere second’s error in launching will bring a breaking wave down onto the small boat.
The end of that story is not one they want to watch from this beach, on this day, with this boat, with these men.
Finally the launch.
But no break in the tension, as now the engine must start and the boat make the run past the break, before the next set of large waves arrives.
Now is not a time for standing, but a time for pacing.
It is a vain attempt to outrun the unwelcome fears, the unwanted visions, the unspoken knowledge of the bad endings that are a second either side of perfect.
If the timing is perfect and the motor is perfect and the run is perfect then it is a small matter to break through the surf.
Another launch, another run, another wave, another day on the water.
But for other boats.
For other men.
Things are not always so perfect.