The sun sets on A-Dock at Gangplank Marina; Photo by Author

Southwest’s Gangplank Marina recently moved downstream slightly and changed considerably, as its infrastructure was upgraded as part of the development of the Wharf. As residents of Gangplank, my family and I moved the boat we live on to its new slip. The night before we did, I reflected on the happy and eventful years we spent in the marina’s previous incarnation:

Tomorrow we leave these rickety wooden docks. As part of a renovation of the marina our boat is moving to fancy, modern concrete docks. This is a good thing, but it is bittersweet. I love these old docks. When we moved aboard in 2007 I had no idea I’d end up living here longer than anywhere except my childhood home.

These docks served as the setting for a wealth of adventures. I’ve dove from them (poor choice) in the middle of sweltering summer nights and shoveled three feet of snow off of them through frigid winds. We shared more parties, potlucks, cruises, hijinks and markings of life milestones here than I can remember with people I’ll never forget. We’ve run down these docks to help each other through trying times and used them as a viewing platform for awe-inspiring sunsets. There were quiet evenings where I managed to catch a few fish, but miss on many more.

I asked Laura to be my wife on a hill overlooking the marina. I got lucky and she said yes. We married on a paddlewheel boat that pulled up to the end of one of these docks. It almost couldn’t pull in, due to a large thunderstorm that grazed us so closely there was flooding mere blocks away. Lucky again!

A few summers later I found myself walking these docks with Laura while she was in labor. We stopped by boats to savor our last hours of not being parents with wonderful neighbors. I carried both my sons home from the hospital down these docks. I’ve pushed strollers all over them. Then there were the moments of trepidation in deciding when each boy was ready to walk on these docks.

The best part of life here has been, and will remain, the remarkable people we get to share it with. The structure under our feet is splintery, slippery and absurdly far beyond its design life. The new setup will be safer, sleeker and more reliable. But it won’t be soaked with memories and magic, at least initially. Goodbye old docks. And thank you!

By John McLaughlin

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