March 20, 2009

Dear John . . . Aaargh!

IT’S THE FIRST DAY of spring. Do my thoughts turn to frolicking among the daffodils and prancing around the Maypole? No they do not. My mind is full of thunder clouds and little bolts of lightning. I have just received my annual “Dear John” letter from the Port of Bellingham.

Dear John, they say, we’re putting up your moorage fees. It happens every year, regular as clockwork at the spring equinox. Twelve hours of daylight and 24 hours of dark thoughts.

If you own a large ship, your dock charges are nearly always based on tonnage, which is the amount of cargo she can carry. But in the netherworld of yacht marinas, moorage charges are based on overall length. Actually, in my marina, they’re based on the length of the slip you’re allocated, so in my case I have to take a 30-foot slip for my 27-foot boat. There are no 27-foot slips and they won’t let me moor in a 25-foot slip, the next size down.

Few people outside a small cadre of deep thinkers realize how unfair it is to charge for moorage by the length of the boat rather than its cargo-carrying capacity, or, in the case of a yacht, the volume of water it displaces.

After all, if you double the length of a boat, you increase its interior volume by eight times. Dave Gerr, the well-known New York naval architect, says a 55-foot boat is actually 21 times larger than a 20-footer, assuming similar proportions for each. He also says that its taxable value is 21 times greater.

But does a 20-footer pay a 1/21st part of the moorage fee a 55-footer pays? Nowhere near. Marinas charge by the foot, so the owners of 20 footers (and, naturally, 27-footers) are being robbed blind.

This is blatant discrimination, of course. While the rich get richer, the poor subsidize their moorage fees. It’s shameful. More than shameful, actually, since it’s done so deliberately.

It’s time for a revolution. Shout it from the rooftops: “Taxation by displacement, not length.” If one of you will kindly step up and wave the flag, I’ll be right behind you.

Today’s Thought
He was naturally subject to a kind of disease, which at that time they called lack of money.
—Rabelais, Works.

If smoking is so bad for you, how come it cures salmon and ham?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stop whining and buy a 30 footer then.