The Pat West Gaff Rig Race is on Saturday and it marks the official end to the summer sailing season in Vineyard Haven. The Holmes Hole Fall Series has already begun, however, and if you are a sailing and racing enthusiast, you could have been active this year from June through October, or later, as long as the weather lasts.

For the past 10 years that has been the outline of my summers. Begin with the Figawi Race from Hyannis to Nantucket. Put Avanti in and stay on the water until Phil Hale calls from the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard and says those frightful words: "It’s time, David, time to haul your boat.” With luck it’s after Nov. 1, when I get the dreaded call.

But not this year. My boat Avanti stayed on the hard at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport all summer long, shrouded like a household in mourning, which it was in part. I had decided not to launch her so as to keep my schedule open for what I anticipated would be a very active season for my business. It was and it turned out to be the right move.

But when I made the decision not to sail, my mind posed this question: would this summer go faster or slower without the interruptions of time on the water?

A friend once told me that when you’re on a boat, there is no past, there is no future, there is only the present. And it’s true. When you enters these pockets of no time, the rest of the world, and time itself, disappears.

One of my favorite sailing moments is when I return to the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club at the end of a long sailing day, step off the launch and walk down the long wooden dock to the clubhouse. You’re tired, you’re hauling your gear and you see the sun lowering in the sky and enjoy a special sense of satisfaction.

That walk is a bridge between two worlds. It is where you catch up with the ongoing space-time continuum and rejoin the reality of what had been going on while you were away.

The day is over most assuredly as it would have been had I spent it on land.

But by entering that pocket of no time, I was shielded from actually sensing the passage of time. You repeat that process over the 12 weeks of summer and you find that the time, and the summer, has been extended.

However, I had eliminated those pockets completely, and as a result the summer felt like a tape run at breakneck speed. No buffers. No time outs. Just one long sprint with little chance for a pause or reflection.

When I’d look at the clock around 6 p.m. on a Thursday, I’d imagine that the first gun had just gone off for the evening’s race and the harbor was full of sails. Having written about those races for the Gazette for several years, I could easily recite the names of the boats and their skippers.

I’ve learned my lesson, though. One summer away is enough. Life is short. No need to make it seem even shorter. Next year my boat is in the water in early May. I’m already thinking about buying new sails.

David Lott lives in Vineyard Haven.