May 4, 2010

What’s wrong here?

ALL RIGHT CLASS, please open your latest BoatU.S. Magazine to page 69. Observe the full-page color picture of what the magazine calls a cruising sailboat. It’s a Beneteau First 40 under full sail, happily manned by one young man at a gigantic wheel aft, and one young woman relaxing carelessly in the cockpit.

Very well, then. What’s wrong with this picture?

No, no, it’s not that the young woman is almost fully covered in a Breton striped shirt and long white pants instead of a skimpy bikini. It’s something else.

C’mon now, look closely. Okay, okay, you’re very slow today, so I’ll give you a clue. Look at the cockpit. What do you see? Lines, disappearing lines. Count the lines coming back over the deck into the cockpit. I make it 16, 17, 18 in all. No, 19, if that’s not a shadow.

And where are the ends of those lines? Where is the spaghetti? They’ve hidden it, see, they’ve hidden all the ends so the cockpit would look neat and tidy for the photograph.

About a dozen of them have simply been thrown down the main companionway. God help anyone who puts a foot down there. Other ends have been carefully tucked into the ports under the cockpit seats. The rest just sort of dribble in and try to hide on the cockpit floor. This is a $222,000 boat with no place for its lines.

Now class, for homework tonight I want you to write a short essay on why this is not a cruising boat as BoatU.S. and Beneteau seem to think. (Hint: 19 lines. Two people. No dodger. Big hole in transom for waves to wash into cockpit. Sail controls out of reach of person at helm. No protection for person at helm. And the clincher: no baggywrinkle.)

Class dismissed.

Today’s Thought
For better or worse, editing is what editors are for; and editing is selection and choice of material. That editors—newspaper or broadcast—can and do abuse this power is beyond doubt ...
— Warren E. Burger, Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, 29 May 73

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #47
Streams and currents are described by set and drift. Set is the direction they’re moving toward, and drift is their speed over the ground in knots.

“Did you ever use those water skis you got for your birthday?”
“Nah, I never did find a lake with enough of a slope.”


oztayls said...

The first thing that strikes me about these modern boats is how sterile they look. Just look at the promo shots. There is no romance at all in that floating plastic caravan with soul whatsoever. Yuck.

For the money, a real sailor would opt for a nice Herreshoff or something similar. Yes it might need more maintenance than the plastic YUCK boat, but I'm sure there would not be too much difficulty in recruiting more than ONE young lady in a striped Breton shirt to handle all the sheets AND varnish the topsides. And that dear Idler is where a real boat pays back in buckets, isn't it? Doesn't it?? Oh well, I'd still take the Herreshoff...

Robert Salnick said...

Just got the chance to look at my copy. I completely agree - that's no cruiser. We are a cutter-rigged ketch (meaning we have twice as many sails as this sloop), and we have far fewer lines - even including those that are not run to the cockpit.

And thanks for drawing attention to the great lengths they went to to hide the tails of all those lines - it was amusing indeed!

s/v Eolian