August 5, 2010

Down at zero

SOMEBODY RECENTLY ASKED if I’d given up sailing because I’d sold my boat. The answer is no. As a matter of fact I’m suffering withdrawal symptoms. I find myself looking at a Drascombe Lugger and thinking, “If Webb Chiles could sail one of these around the world, why can’t I?” I find myself looking at a Cal 20 and thinking: “If Robert Crawford could sail one of these to Hawaii, why can’t I?” I find myself looking at a 19-foot O’Day Mariner centerboarder and thinking: “Phil Rhodes might well have designed this thing specially for beach cruising from Alaska to Seattle.”

God, it’s pathetic. I don’t really want to do any of those things. And what’s even more pathetic is that I don’t know what I DO want to do. The trouble with me is that I think sailing should have a purpose. The purpose for my last boat, a Cape Dory 27, was to sail around Vancouver Island and explore the wild and pristine anchorages of its Pacific West coast. Well, the CD27 did that just fine. It fulfilled its purpose. And now it’s gone. So I need a new purpose; and nothing presents itself. Nothing reasonable, that is. Nothing affordable.

I’d like to try the Everglades Challenge from Tampa Bay to Key Largo, an 8-day expedition-type adventure race of some 300 miles for small sailboats, kayaks, and canoes. But it’s on the other side of the continent from me and I don’t have any idea what boat I’d need and I’m not sure I’m fit enough anyhow, because it really is a challenge. So it’s just another of my dreams. And, anyway, I hear the mosquitoes are real bad.

The simple fact is that I’m between boats. In some ways it’s a comfortable place to be in a time of economic hardship. No slip fees. No outrageous bills from diesel mechanics. No longing for the newest and most expensive chart plotter. But at the same time it’s unsettling. I’ve invested a lot in sailing over the years and I’m not using it. Oh sure, I hove-to in the 11-foot Mirror dinghy the other day, out in the middle of the bay, just to be sure I haven’t forgotten how — but I’d like to think I’ve moved past the Mirror. I’ve built four of them in my time and won a national championship. That’s all behind me now. I just can’t see what’s ahead. Maybe I’ll be between boats permanently. Maybe I’ll take up crocheting. My wife does it, so it can’t be that difficult. Pray for me, willya?

Today’s Thought
A man without a purpose is soon down at zero. Better to have a bad purpose than no purpose at all.
— Thomas Carlyle

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb #79
Emergency flotation. If you have a fiberglass sailboat with 35 percent lead ballast, you’ll need a minimum of 1 pound of added buoyancy for every 1.6 pounds of displacement. Wooden hulls should add buoyancy equivalent to the weight of the ballast and engine, plus 25 percent. Air bags offer about 63 pounds of lift per cubic foot. Foam offers 62 pounds a cubic foot.

An Arkansas farmer won the lottery and celebrated by taking his wife to a fancy French restaurant in town. He asked for a nice bottle of red wine.
“Yes, sir,” said the wine steward, “what year?”
“Right now, this very minute,” snapped the farmer. “We want to drink it with our meal.”


dylan winter said...

Quickly buy a boat - time is of the essence. Buy one that can sit on a trailer in the front yard - you can see it every day. Make sure its big enough to sleep in - not on. Take it to exotic places. Sail slowly - stop often - watch the sun going down over a new landscape. You are wasting your life John Vigor and you need to renew the creative wellspring that feeds your writing.

oztayls said...

It's pretty clear to me. You need to BUILD a boat. You see, this gives a sense of purpose, of doing, while still being connected to sailing. The good thing too, is that when building a boat, to money dribbles out. You're not forking out big dollars all in one hit, and you can stand back and admire it before you leave the shed and turn out the lights....very satisfying.

The Everglades Challenge is beckoning. The mozzies can easily be tamed and what a blast that trip must be! Is the other side of the continent REALLY a problem?

dylan winter said...

for gawds sake don't build a boat - that is a way of avoiding sailing. Buy a boat that you can fix up as you go - buy a boat that you don't care if it gets the odd chip in the gelcoat from the road, or one where a rubbing strake is for rubbing against piling rather than having a perfect shiny finish. Learn to look out of the cockpit rather than down at your own grubby boat. Its the way to go.

frabjus day said...

I think the Paradox is the perfect "old man's" boat. Kinda like one of those mini meter boats in which you don't have to be continually jumping around to keep it on its toes. Small enough to keep bottom painted without draining the bank account. You can cook and sleep aboard. You don't care if it rains, you just close the hatch -- a perfect We(s)t Coaster. Small enough to trailer if you want to. No need for a tender. Able to sit upright when the tide goes out...

Jennifer Moran said...

Well, I'm shocked! I've been away for a bit so I've just seen that the boat has gone. I think the solution is to start writing a book. Then you'll need something to escape the book and you'll have to buy another boat.
By the way, sailors should knit rather than crochet which is why all those Aran, Shetland, Guernsey (and, of course, Jersey) men wind up in stitches.