Sailors and boaters will be well-versed in the notion, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” And of course it is. Our boats are so much more than transportation, and the experience underway is often the most fun and rewarding part of any cruise. Still, I’d be surprised if any cruiser didn’t appreciate that not every mile made is joyful—whether it’s the perfunctory slog under power when you’d rather be sailing, or when the sea state robs you of comfort or even the capacity to safely continue.

The spirit of that old adage urges us to live in the moment, adjust our perspectives, and honor those less-than-great moments. What’s on my mind this month, though, are the times when the destination is so dang good it overshadows the voyage getting there. And in the Pacific Northwest, we have a lot of those.

Who among us hasn’t turned the corner into some new cove and gone, “Oh my… this place… exists?” Draped in mysterious mist, through a summer sunset haze, or in the organic technicolor of a windless afternoon with cotton candy clouds and nobody else around—the more you travel the waters of the Salish Sea and Inside Passage, the more opportunity you have to find places that take your breath away. Each time we experience it anew, our gratitude and awe and connection to our surroundings deepens. It just doesn’t get old.

This is front of mind in part because of Andy Cross’s feature in this issue, “Sea Feasts of British Columbia” (page 30). His story is a poignant reminder of one of the many ways that boat folk intertwine our lives with these incredible waters. What are we to do but be wonderstruck by the abundance, diversity, and beauty of such places? Eating of the sea has always increased my sense of responsibility to these creatures and ecosystems—an important facet of connection, I’d say.

The ways that cruisers commune with our environment is as varied as the types of boats that bring us from gunkhole to gunkhole. Yet, across these individualized experiences is a ubiquitous admiration for place—for the waters, rocks, forests, and mountains that envelop them, and living beings with whom we share it all.

No doubt, other corners of the county boast lovely and treasured cruising grounds, but I’ve found this kind of relationship with place to be somewhat unique to Pacific Northwest cruisers, at least among American boaters. Perhaps the personal fulfillment derived from a particular cruising environment tracks inversely with the role of the “cruising lifestyle” community. To me, and I believe to many Salish Sea cruisers, the fact that we value our cruising neighbors and find resonance and shared passion among our fellow boaters feels like gravy. I gather that those rewarding interpersonal networks may be more the main course if the cruising setting isn’t quite as rich. That might be the best thing about calling this region home—you can have it any way you like. If what draws you to the water is the community of remarkably good people who like to boat the way you do, terrific; if it’s the challenge of getting from A to B, perfect; but if it’s an ever-strengthening connection to a vibrant ecosystem offering endless natural beauty, your cup will overflow.

This month, perhaps more than any other, brings Salish Sea cruisers off the dock for extended cruising. In a few weeks or months, they’ll return with eyes full of the wonder and affection for this extraordinary water-wilderness (and possibly bellies full of local seafood). Go safely, tread lightly, and enjoy your journey and its destinations.