February 7, 2010

The vox of the pop

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column by John Vigor.)

MOST OF THE NATION seems to have divided itself quite happily into two social and political groups: elitists and populists. While that might be fine for them, it’s a bit puzzling for those of us who own small boats. I look around at my boating friends and wonder, which is she? Or: Does he look like an elitist?

I’m sure they’re looking at me, and at each other, and wondering, too. In short, we boating folk are a little adrift because in our confusing, watery world the distinction between the aristocracy and the hoi polloi is not as readily discernible as it is on land.

But they don’t call me the Mother Theresa of the Heaving Seas for nothing. Luckily I am here to give my all to those less fortunate than I am at being smart. I am here to help my fellow boaters sort themselves out into their respective groups, so they’ll know when to hiss and when to kiss.

Here is your guide:
Populists buy Bayliners and MacGregors. They wear gold braid on navy-blue caps and call themselves Captain. They like large noisy raft-ups and fancy marinas with 50-amp power and room service. They refer to their boats as “yachts” and have enormous tenders with two 150-hp outboards and a wet bar. Their women are young, blonde, curvaceous, vacuous, and scantily clad. They read Tristan Jones and believe every word.

Elitists buy Hinckleys and Pacific Seacraft. Some own old-fashioned wooden boats with bowsprits and fading pictures down below of President Kennedy out sailing with Jackie. They secretly scorn Bayliners and MacGregors but are too polite to say so. They wear floppy little sun hats spattered with anti-fouling paint and drink Dark ’n Stormies in the cockpit at sundown. They own tiny inflatable dinghies with 2-hp four-stroke engines, and their women are strong, practical, good-looking and mostly smart enough to stay at home.

And now, having helped you sort yourselves out, and having done my good work for the day, I will modestly fade into the sunset just as Mother Theresa would have done, and wish you good luck with all your hissing and kissing.

Today’s Thought
I don't believe in elitism. I don't think the audience is this dumb person lower than me. I am the audience.
-- Quentin Tarantino

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb #11
Sailing boat ballast, ratio to displacement weight:
Cruising boats, from 30 to 40 percent of total displacement.
Racing boats, from 40 to 50 percent of displacement.
Extreme racers, as high as 70 percent of displacement.

“Hello, 911? A man is trying to break into my bedroom.”
“Stay calm, madam, the police will be with you shortly.”
“No, no, not the police. Send the fire brigade. I’m on the third floor and he needs a ladder.”

1 comment:

Aaron Headly said...

Another category: Proletarian.

The marina I favor has hundreds of slips, and the most expensive on is, I think, $700 a season. (Mine's $675.) There's no Yacht Club, and the biggest rule I can recall offhand is the 'no used tires or old carpet for fenders' one.

Thanks to the leeboards on my Ted Brewer/Alan Vaitses sharpie ketch, I berth right in there with the power-boaters.

These guys (and they are pretty much all guys) work for a living. I'm not a huge fan of their taste in beer or music (Bud Light and Classic Rock, respectively), but I totally dig their boat ethics: boating is what they do for fun, and it helps them define themselves. Sort of like Harley ownership. One or two of them (maybe) even know how to rig a spring line properly.

The ones that know what a halyard is think I'm a little crazy to have seven of them, but they don't judge. I like that.