Boat as Idea
When talk turns to their boats, owners wax melodic. Web extra from our May 2012 issue.
“The Boat as Idea,” in the May 2012 issue of Cruising World, struck a chord with owners and sailors. More than 50 answered my call for stories and musings about the rewards of a boat beyond on-the-water sailing. Because of space, I couldn’t use them all in the magazine. Here are several more:
A few people have asked me why I continue to work slowly on my 42-foot boat in my yard here next to my house. I’ll state it simply: “I’m keeping the dream alive.” Yes, it’s an idea of returning to my old cruising days.
(JohnL, Kea’au, Big Island, Hawaii)
In his later years, my dad lost his medical endorsement to fly after a heart attack. He still kept three airplanes. He would go to his hangar every day and putter around. Shoot the breeze with passing visitors and go home after 4 or 5 hours. Those airplanes kept him alive for an additional 12 years and were worth every penny in hangar cost and insurance premiums.
I recently moved to a marina with a dock. I am a pretty busy guy so I would hustle down to the dock, load my crew and take off. I hadn’t spent any time getting to know anyone. The last few times I have been futzing on the boat. Installing solar, new bilge pump, etc. All day long people drop by to say hi and shoot the breeze. Many folks are having lunch and drinks on their boat. A few go out but more stay. Across from me is a gentleman with a 45-foot Beneteau. He sits there in the cockpit stern-to and has a kind word for everyone. We strike up a conversation. He used to have a 32-footer. His boys loved it. His wife tolerated it pretty well. He traded up. The boys went to college and got distracted with their own lives. The wife isn’t as mobile as she used to be so rarely comes down. The boat doesn’t go out much, if at all.
I said to him: “Well, heck. I have a full crew of miscreants. Why don’t I get them aboard a couple times a month and you can take us sailing?”
“Oh, no thanks,” he said. “I really don’t have time. What with all the friends I have here to keep up with.”
It took me a while to get it but that boat is definitely keeping this gentleman alive. He has a lot of acquaintances who drop by and he always has a story to tell. I think he’s getting exactly what he wants out of his boat and I say more power to him.
(Dan, Maxi 77, Relax Lah!, Singapore)
We sail our boat, not as much as we’d like; there’s something special about ownership and the idea that we can step aboard whenever we like. I spend some time every day on the boat doing something, making her a little more what we want her to be and a little more ours. And it’s occurred to us, lying in the forward cabin looking out at puffy clouds floating by and feeling a light breeze through the forward hatch, that we could be anywhere, from tied to our dock to anchored at Tahiti.
If you have the time, see if you can scare up a copy of Small Craft Advisory by Louis Rubin, Jr., He included a chapter on this very topic that really hit home for me.
(Mike Turner, Hermann Lazyjack 32 schooner, Mobile Bay, Ala.)
How many of us still have a baseball glove in the closet? Do you have a weight set that gets moved more than used? How ‘bout power tools that still aren’t dirty after 10 years?
I know a dozen guys with hot-rods in various stages of decomposition and/or reconstruction. It’s easier for sure, and sometimes more realistic, to act out parts of the dream even if we can’t—or won’t—alter our lives to realize the dream. That connection to the life we would live gives us hope that we could do it if “normal” life weren’t in the way, and we love to picture ourselves doing something great, something cool.
I used to be bothered by dreamers, but I have come to appreciate the joy they get from touching the vehicle of their dreams.
(John, Catalina 27, North Carolina)
My favorite boat as an “idea” was presented by John Steinbeck with those that hung out at the docks of Cannery Row. [Ed note: Steinbeck’s character, Henri, In Cannery Row, likes boats but hates the water and spends years living in and rebuilding a boat on the hard.]
(Capt. Force, Aythya)
Nothing beats reading a book or taking a nap in the V-berth, gently rocking with the waves lapping at the hull while a fresh breeze blows through. Fresh coffee, the smell of sausage cooking in the galley, sitting in the cockpit as the sun comes up and lake comes alive ... is one of the greatest pleasures in life.
(Joe Diver, 1982 Catalina 25, Eagle Mountain Lake, Texas)