The Fantasy Fleet
There's a game my parents have been playing for about 35 years now: If we could take any boat cruising, what boat would that be? It's a fantasy game, sure, but one that's not without teeth when my parents play it. I was 8 when they bought their first sailboat in 1974-the same year Cruising World was born. The boat was a MacGregor Venture 25 called Lilas that we sailed on Lake Michigan for five or six years till the keel broke off in an October gale; the boat capsized and sank, and two generations of Murphy males nearly drowned. It was the sort of focusing event that compels people to make choices-the reasonable choice in this case being to foreswear sailing and other forms of risky living and count our suburban blessings. But my folks didn't do that. Instead, they bought a 41-foot Garden-designed ketch, sold the Chicagoland house, and set us off exploring the bigger world.
They've been living ashore in Annapolis, Maryland, for 20 years now. But still they play the game. "I keep coming back to the Prout 45," my mom said recently when I initiated another round. She recounted stories of the easy living that friends have described while making miles around the world aboard those boats. My dad, a yacht broker, concurred, but with a caveat. "Whenever we're in an anchorage," he said, "I'm still always drawn to the ketches. I love the way they look and all the choices they give you to balance the sail area. But I think catamarans have taught me that I couldn't live anymore in a dark cabin with just a couple of portholes for light."
Yes, this is clearly a game with a few more rounds to go.
On the occasion of Cruising World's 35th birthday, we've pitched the same question to a handful of our longtime friends and abettors. Here's what they have to say.
|Melanie Neale: Shannon Shoalsailor 35|
Actually, that's probably the hardest question ever. But here's my response: I'd want to take a Shannon Shoalsailer 35 around the Bahamas, especially the Pipe Creek area in the Exumas. I love this boat-it's one of the most innovative designs I've seen recently, and being able to take it into the shallow water in the Exumas would be so much fun. It draws less than three feet, you don't have to deal with a centerboard or any moving parts below the waterline, and it's still a pretty boat. It sleeps six, but four seems like a better number. The perfect crew? My husband, my sister, and my brother-in-law.
CW columnist Melanie Neale (www.melanieneale.com) grew up sailing the U.S. East Coast and Bahamas with her family aboard a Gulfstar 47, Chez Nous. She lives with her husband in Hollywood, Florida.
|Tania Abei: De Villiers 38|
My fantasies are still fluid. Given a few more days or weeks, my choice would change many times over, guaranteed. This will do for today: an aluminum De Villiers 38. I'd buy the plans and have it built by a yard of my choosing, outfitted with nothing but the best-especially the engine. Two models are already out there in the world. One is sailing; the other is being finished up; both are ruggedly dreamy. The northeastern part of North America, so close yet so unknown to me, needs a visit, and it's geographically convenient enough for me to make good on many of my as yet unfulfilled promises and spend several years taking patient family and friends exploring and sailing."
Nine hours later: "I've had a little more time to think, and to make it a real fantasy, I'll stick with the northeast cruising destination and De Villiers bit-for now-but I'm gonna have to lose the labor-intensive relationships with family and friends as fantasy crew and go with John Cusack and Nigel Calder instead. Now that's a crew worth fantasizing over.
Maiden Voyage author Tania Aebi, who's recent feature for CW was "You Can Go Home Again" (October 2008), first wrote for the magazine as a teenage girl in the 1980s. She lives in Vermont with her two sons.
Carol Newman Cronin
At the age of 15, I promised to marry a sailing friend when I turned 30. The only caveat: He had to own an Ohlson 38 by then. We didn't get married-not to each other, anyway-but I still have a hankering to cruise on an Ohlson 38. My fantasy specifies updated sails and hardware, modern cordage, and immaculate varnish. Crew must include my husband, Paul. The destination? Nova Scotia's Bras d'Or lakes. I cruised there with my parents a few weeks after the marriage proposal referred to above. The scenery and gunkholes I remember definitely deserve another look-without the distorted lens of teenage petulance.
Olympic sailor Carol Newman Cronin is the author of Oliver's Surprise: A Boy, a Schooner, and the Great Hurricane of 1938 (Gemma, 2009). She lives in Jamestown, Rhode Island.