Boat as Idea
When talk turns to their boats, owners wax melodic. Web extra from our May 2012 issue.
I had a high school friend, Marty, who was everything I was not: Handsome, great dancer, rafts of girls, and finally, had the most lovely of the girls as his wife. I thought for years that there was the happiest of men.
After I completed a multi-year circumnavigation, I got a call from Marty’s wife. Marty had died from a wasting disease. She asked me to visit their home. Gradually his universe began to shrink until in his last years his entire world was a small room, he called it his Chart Room, filled with charts and storm tracks, passage logs and pictures of ports of call, in which, without my knowledge, he sailed with me around the world.
I’ll admit it, I’m a dreamer. I’ve thought about getting a sailboat for quite some time and going off to Europe/Med and sailing around to different countries or around the world. The boat IS an idea for me. The idea of what I’m going to do when I retire from the military. Dreaming of where I could go. I look at boat listings and think of ideas of what I can do, where I can go and the adventures that can happen. I still have 6 years left to retirement and plan to take a year off to de-stress from work. I’ve thought of buying a house when I retire and settle down but after growing up and living around the military my whole life I’m not sure I can or want to settle down.
(Dan, Germany, soon moving to Tennessee.)
I have a story about an old boat partner I had many years ago. He called me one day and offered a half interest in his Catalina 27 as the marina was getting ready to sell it for past due monies owed. He had owned this boat for 10 years and had only sailed her twice. He liked to sit home and plan ocean voyages. So I guess you could say that this boat was only an idea to him. He never worked on the boat over the 10 years he owned her. On a good note: I did buy that half interest and got the boat up to shape. Then I bought his half and my wife and I sailed her all over the Chesapeake Bay.
(CLSailor, Cheoy Lee Clipper 36 Rapport)
I’d argue that every single person who is or has been actually cruising was a dreamer at first. How could you not have been? I remember the first time I actually “had the dream” of cruising. I was sitting on the verandah of a small hotel in Martinique on a family vacation in 1985. There were several cruising yachts anchored in the cove, and I said to myself, “Wouldn’t I love to do that! But we probably won’t ever be able to afford it.” Seventeen years later, we bought a sailboat, outfitted it, worked on our offshore skills with a trip to Bermuda and then sailed off to the Caribbean. If I had not had my dream, it would never have happened.
(Hud3, The Belle of Virginia, Island Packet 380, Nevis, West Indies)
I’ve owned 18 boats, 2 powerboats, 24 and 36, two small boats, 14 and 15 skiffs, two sailing dories, 16 & 20 feet, several sloops, 23,24,30, 31 and 40, and an H28 ketch. Rebuilt one 24 sloop completely, and built the 30 and 40 from scratch with a partner. All were wood, and all were old time designs. Yet one never hit the water while I owned it. It was a sloop I rebuilt and spent many hours sitting in its cabin in bad weather, drinking coffee laced with bourbon, reading or just thinking, listening to the weather beating on her (Ragamuffin) and there was something about the shape of the boat, the whole experience that wasn’t quite equaled by the several seaside cabins I’ve owned and lived in. Maybe it’s the shape of the thing, the specificity of its construction, layout and accommodation that give it that special quality that even without the slap of the wave on her and the tugging around at anchor or even in a slip, that makes it so unique as an atavistic den, almost womblike, and a remembrance of living in caves.
(Douglas Savage, Massachusetts)
The boat is the context of my memory. It holds all those night watch conversations safe from the failing synapses of age. I still voyage with you along the Hudson, along the Gulf Stream from Marsh Harbour, across the Atlantic from Spain. Precious cargo those memories. Safe in a cockpit, safe in a boat, still sailing through my memory.
(Buie Seawall, Denver, Arial’s Song)
The boat as an idea figures in biblical narrative dating back to Noah. It becomes the ark which carries humanity to safety. I think the World Council of Churches also used it as a stylized logo for their organization. Thus the boat becomes sanctuary and in these days of economic turmoil and environmental degradation I think this symbolic view of the boat grows in its fascination even in a somewhat secularized form.
(Mark Parent, owner of an IP 38)