Recently, I’ve been answering the call of water–Lake Michigan to be precise. There’s something soothingly therapeutic about walking along the lakefront late on a Tuesday afternoon after the paper has been sent to the printer. Water is so … unsolid. We need that fluidity in our experience. It’s an antidote to rigidity.

I stroll north from roughly Buckingham Fountain to the Chicago River and back with plenty of company–joggers, cyclists, fellow amblers, plus the sedentary in various stages of meditative repose. You can breath on the edge of the city. The tension dissipates.

Along the way, I pass the Chicago Yacht Club and the Columbia Yacht Club, which must get confusing since the initials are the same. Sailboats still bob in the harbor, creating a small forest of clanking masts. They’ll all be gone soon, banished to dry dock or wherever it is boats hide out for the winter.

I enjoy reading the names, which are (and often intended to be) a window into the owner’s soul (or state of mind).

Many, of course, boast double meanings: Rainmaker, for instance, is not just a nod to nature, but also implies economic acumen and perhaps a note of pessimism (“It rains every time I go sailing …”). Other business entendres include Trade Wins, Spendrift and Outsource. Plus the financially overextended Major Debt.

Some seem to be named purely for the pun of it (nautically speaking): Pier Pressure, Ready Oar Knot, Friend Ship, Loop Hole (with the Chicago skyline painted as background), Genuine Draft (beer distributor?), Final Draft (a successful author?), Tide the Knot (a wedding present?), Fire Escape (retired firefighter?), Seas the Moment (or The Day or The Opportunity), Free Radical (politics or science?), Sea Weed (self-deprecating?), Sailvation (religious?), Port of Hall (playing on their last name, presumably), Seahorst (another name play).

Sailboat names cover a vast range of “identity projections”:

Self-absorbed (What About Me, My Way, My Anesthetic, Solitude)

Romantic (Two Hearts, Hula Girl, Belle Aimee)

Escape from the grind (Restless, Alibi, Siesta Dreaming, Adios II, Rebound, Solace, Release Me)

Musical (A Hard Day’s Night, Allegro, September Song, Fledermaus, Amazing Grace, Gigi, Siren Song)

Laid back (Sheer Bliss II, Good Times!, Laughing Dolphin, Serendipity, Glider, Crosswinds)

Whimsical (Deja Vu, Sender West, Caribbean Spirits, KAOS)

Spiritual/mythological (Archangel, Blessings, Isis, Phenix [sic])

Irish (Celtic Knot, Slainte, Connemara)

French (Vitesse, tres grande?)

Alcoholic (Champagne, Get Sauced)

Occupational (Miranda Rights)

Parental (Almost There)

Aspirational (Infinity, Intuition, Momentum, Endurance)

Inspirational (King’s Dream, Viagra)

Four-wheeled parallels (’57 Chevy, Winnebago, Skidmarks)

Literary (D’Artagnan)

Ethiopian (Lion of Judah)

Poetic (First Light, Visions II)

Your guess is as good as mine (Nostos, Oogy Wawa)

I’d rather keep my feet on the ground, but the lakefront is a real treasure. Without it, who knows what the city would be like.

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