WHEN blue water widens between hull and dock, the frayed world brightens for the boatman. All roads ashore may lead toward Miltown, but the buoyant water works its own tranquilizing magic. Never since the day some primitive yachtsman learned to balance a floating log have boating buffs pursued their pleasure with such elegance and ease. From agile outboard runabout to stately, seagoing cruiser (see color spread), today's powered craft are designed for comfort.

There are still stubborn sailors at docks and yacht-club bars who sneer at "the stinkpots" and curse the day that chrome...

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