I realize that many boaters may be thinking about wrapping up the summer boating season this month. Still, for the average cruiser, August may just as easily be the month you’ve looked forward to all year, when you’ll untie those lines and spend some time afloat in the islands or even farther afield.

For the second time in as many months, I’m experiencing wonderful night before butterflies. As I write this, I’m sitting at the nav station in the just-as-cozy-as-I-remember-it main salon of a friend’s Canadian Sailcraft 40. Tomorrow, we depart for the 48° North Cruising Rally. Earlier this summer, I had a memorable and rolly “eve” before the 5 a.m. start of Race to Alaska, during which my excitement could not be drowned out by the fitful soundscape of shrieking fenders and the intermittent clang of a piling-collar slam (check page 36 for R2AK coverage).

If you ask me, the night before is almost as good as cruising. It’s our Day Zero, and essentially part of the trip. By this time, you’re there. You’re in it. You have unplugged.

I just walked across the street to the store (love when it’s this close) to tie up the final loose ends of provisioning, and it was nothing like my weekly trudge to restock at home, in the best way. When you’re shopping the night before, you’ve got an important task, but also a permission slip to indulge. Do we have enough LaCroix and Hazy IPA? What the heck, a little more couldn’t hurt.

As I put ice in the cooler and the last items in the fridge, I admired our haul. We certainly weren’t going hungry. Looking around, everything was in order. The dinghy bobbed lazily at our stern, tow line tied short but ready to be extended. Belongings for five sailors were stowed as tactfully as possible. Water and fuel — topped up. Sails furled and fit for action. Cockpit cushions, set for forthcoming relaxation. We were ready. Well, we couldn’t locate a shore power cord, so we were mostly ready; but we shouldn’t actually need that since we intend to stay away from the dock for the rest of the week.

The night before (and the lack of a power cord) also gives you that on-scene opportunity to do delightful things like meet your neighbors. Who knows when I might have met that kind and gregarious pair until I asked to charge my computer on their boat for an hour. We chatted for nearly that long, it was lovely.

The night before is the transition from that mindset of pretend control of terrestrial outcomes, to the one of assured lack of control of the nautical ones. It’s the shift from rapid-fire meetings and obligations, to cruising speed. It pleasantly obliterates my routine — senses heightened, gratitude deepened, whims welcomed, and adventure awareness activated.

Of course, the “eve” is nothing without what follows it. This rally week will be amazing, and I don’t even know why yet.

Whenever you have your next adventure-eve experience, before you retire to your bunk, make sure to appreciate just how special it is to be doing what you’re about to do.

I’ll see you on the water,