For adventures and good fortunes large and small, the meaning of May is being thankful.

The following is our winning entry for our first-ever (to our knowledge) 48° North Essay Contest. The essay prompt was simply: What does the beginning of boating season mean to you? 

Is it an essay? Well, no, it’s technically a poem. Is it our favorite entry? You betcha. Josh Wheeler is a 48° North contributor, and had this to say when he submitted this work:

I saw the callout for essays about the meaning of May. At first I thought “no.” Then I took a bike ride and the exercise got my brain working and gave me some time to talk to myself. Then I thought, “I have something to say, but in my own way.” This is what and how I was moved to say it.

In 2020 —

May meant being thankful

For a new liveaboard slip

And not compelled to anchor

Aboard my tiny ship.

For the smell of Ethyl Mercaptan

And the cold gas on my feet

As I filled the community’s propane tanks

To cook the food they eat.

In 2019 —

May meant being thankful

For the offer of a lifetime

To transit the Northwest Passage

A voyage so sublime.

For the publishing of my writings

You know who you are

And the support of friends and family

Both near and afar.

In 2018 —

May meant being thankful

For beginning an odyssey

Around the Isle of Vancouver

And the time afforded me.

For the courage to prepare

A spartan little yacht

A Flicka 20 named Sampaguita

Timid, she is not.

In 2017 —

May meant being thankful

For the delivery of Stay Gold

From Port Angeles to Astoria

Across the bar, so bold.

For Swiftsure and for Image

Through the fog, we safely sailed

With friends from many nations

With patience, we prevailed.


The Mays go on and on

Mother’s Day and May flowers

Of birth and rebirth

Shifting weather and daylight hours.

Prudent sailors take reflection

This is just a sample

Our lives, our boats, our neighbors

May means being thankful.