March 25, 2009

Now's the time to go

THERE’S ONE GOOD THING you can say about this economic recession, or semi-depression, whatever it is: it’s a good time to buy a boat. It’s an especially good time for anyone contemplating sailing around the world in a good old used boat because this is most definitely a buyer’s market. Many people are wanting and needing to sell. Few people are willing to buy.

Even before the greedy insurance agents and bankers sent us down the slippery slope to penury you could sail around the world in a boat costing less than a used car. We have fiberglass to thank for that. All too often we look down on fiberglass boats as cookie-cutter Clorox bottles, but their greatest attribute is their longevity which, of course, has caused much dismay among boatbuilders.

In the good old days when yachts were made of beautiful wood that satisfied the souls of sailors, boatbuilders could rely on their two staunch allies, time and microbes, to limit the life of their products. The ravages of time and the appetites of rot-forming microbes made certain that boats didn’t last more than 20 or 30 years.

But now, in the fiberglass era, 40 and 50-year-old boats are still going strong and boatbuilders are tearing their hair out because the sales of new boats are depressed.
There are bargains galore for buyers looking for old-fashioned but still-solid sailboats capable of sailing around the world, especially those buyers who are prepared to build in a little sweat equity of their own.

The two best times to sail around the world are when you’re young, broke, and carefree, and when you’re old, rich, and carefree. The former beats the latter hands-down.

So if you’re young and worried about your job, there could hardly be a better time to go than now. While the world is wringing its hands and crying uncle, you can be out there on the wide ocean, under the white trade-wind clouds and sunshine, watching your bow wave turn the warm blue water into white lacy foam and thinking about the sandy beaches and coconut palms and nubile maidens in grass skirts swaying their hips to greet you on your next island landfall. (If you’re female, I can quite understand that the maidens in grass skirts might not be much of an incentive, but hey, the sandy beaches and coconut palms are still very attractive.)

So get to it, willya? Tell ’em John Vigor sent you.

Today’s Thought
Travel seems not just a way of having a good time, but something that every self-respecting citizen ought to undertake, like a high-fiber diet, say, or a deodorant.
—Jan Morris.

“And thus I predict that without a doubt the world will end in 50 million years,” said the famous lecturer.
“How many?” cried an alarmed voice in the audience.”
“Fifty million.”
“Whew!” came a relieved voice. “For one dreadful moment I thought you said 15 million.”

1 comment:

Gui said...

Hello John,

It is interesting to find this post now. Few months after that, I started to seriously look for a boat. I found it and after a few more time negotiating I got it.

I'm a grad student, so I could only afford a boat during a crisis time and living aboard. Have been 9 months working on her, and I'm finally about to finish my PhD and start my sail back home.

It's a cute, functional and strong boat build in Durban. I heard about a book of a guy that crossed the whole Atlantic on the same boat, probably not the same hull. I bought the book, then I found this blog.