January 6, 2011

Sail slow, live long

IT WAS AN INTERESTING news day today. First, the Pope says God was behind the Big Bang that created the universe. Well, I don’t know. What happened to the Six-Days-On, One-Day-Off theory about how the world was created? Am I now suddenly expected to believe that we’re just the instantaneous result of a large firecracker gone wrong?

And you’d think God would have mentioned the Big Bang to Moses, wouldn’t you? I mean, it must have been pretty traumatic. I bet He got into big trouble with his mom. And surely He would have added an 11th Commandment:

Thou shalt not play with matches.

And then there was the other big news from the American Medical Association. An important study published in the Journal reveals that your walking speed predicts how long you’re likely to live. Apparently, old codgers who walk fast live an average of 10 years longer than old codgers who walk slowly.

Strangely enough, this directly contradicts an extensive study funded by the Ancient Society of Full-Keel Enthusiasts in Newport, Rhode Island. This study found that people who sail slowly — 6 knots or less — live an average of 12.8 years longer than boaters who habitually travel on the water at speed of between 6 and 20 knots.

According to the study, conducted over a period 10 years, powerboaters and sailors who choose fast, fin-keel boats or multihulls invariably die sooner than sailors who choose classic full-keel designs whose displacement limits them to lower hull speeds.

Dr. Elmer Foldglove, Director of Hydraulic Studies in the College of Science at Newport University admits that nobody understands why the owners of slow boats live longer.

“We were surprised at the results,” he told me. “It wasn’t what we expected.”

I suggested that the faster you go, the greater the chance of damage and injury in a collision.

“That’s true,” he said, “but collisions didn’t come into it. Just sailing on a slow boat seems to be enough to prolong life expectancy. Perhaps it has to do with personality. Perhaps calm, relaxed people — the sort of people who might be expected to live longer in any case — are somehow naturally attracted to full-keel boats. And vice versa.”

Obviously, more study is needed, but meanwhile the Ancient Society of Full-Keel Enthusiasts has welcomed the news. “The price of full-keelers is going up by the day as buyers compete for them,” said secretary Josh Clayburn. “We’ve had a dozen applications to join our society in the past hour, and we’ve had to build an extension onto the clubhouse bar for an expected onslaught of wheelchairs and walkers.”

Today’s Thought
I am too old, and the seas are too long, for me to double the Cape of Good Hope.
— Francis Bacon

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #143
Long overhangs have no place on seagoing sailboats. They cause pounding at the bow and slamming at the stern. In quartering seas, a long counter stern affords an overtaking swell the purchase and leverage to spin the boat broadside-on. Such a sudden broach can be very dangerous. The old rule was: Long overhang, calm water. (And calm water only.)

“I’m afraid I haven’t played golf for a long time,” the sweet young thing confessed to her golf-mad boyfriend. “In fact I’ve even forgotten how to hold the caddy.”

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

1 comment:

Duncan Cameron said...

Hi John, Happy New Year!
I found your comment about long overhangs a bit odd, since there are plenty of such boats with excellent reputations for sea-kindliness. In particular, pounding is more often associated with flat bottoms than graceful bows that split the waves.