We at The Clam managed to get our hands on an advanced copy of Sir David Attenborough’s observations on Rockport’s annual great migration, set to air on PBS this fall.
Late spring into early summer is a magical time along the New England coast. By now the ravages of winter have melted away, leaving the freezing temperatures and oppressive snow a distant memory for the year-round residents of the rugged coast.
In the coastal Hamlet of Rockport, the arrival of warm weather is marked by one of nature’s lesser known but equally impressive great migrations; the annual return of the sailboats which flock to the tiny harbor.
Space in these protective waters is limited and competition for a spot is great, especially within the prestigious main harbor. Often, space is only made available when one of the venerable occupants succumbs to his or her age, leaving a precious vacuum to be rapidly filled by the next in line on the notoriously slow moving waiting list.
The summer is here is short, and the occupants of these magnificent boats waste no time in displaying their plumage, both to impress each other, as well as to call attention from inhabitants onshore. Freshly painted hulls, shining chrome and brass accents, and clean sails which gleam in the sunlight are all on proud display.
The males of the bunch will regularly gather onshore at the Yacht Club, keenly inspecting each other in order to establish a hierarchy. While biologists aren’t certain, they believe that the style of Sperry Topsider footwear denotes their status within the pack.
The females of the group routinely meet to discuss the males, chattering excitedly to each other over mimosas as they admire the showy males and measure up the size of their masts.
July 4th weekend is the height of the mating season, and the harbor becomes a jumble of dancing masts, with the cacophony of clanging rigging and clinking glasses filling the air. Soon, however, these waters will empty once more as the boats one by one return to their wintering grounds, leaving behind the promise of next season’s migration.