THERE ARE AMONG US some people who change boats often. They usually change in an upward direction; I mean, by buying bigger and more expensive boats each time. Such people are engaged on a profitless search for the perfect boat, seduced by the prospect that a boat just two or three feet longer will be faster and more comfortable than their present one, while presenting no more of a challenge to handle and maintain.
They are a doomed species. They will never find the elusive perfection they seek because every boat is a compromise between a series of conflicting design requirements, the most elementary of which affect speed, bodily comfort for the crew, cost, and seaworthiness.
The most important lesson for amateur sailors is this: Learn to be satisfied with the way your boat was designed. If, for example, it was designed for comfort and seaworthiness, with roominess down below, a modest rig, and heavy scantlings, don’t fret when other boats of similar size overtake you, or point higher than you. There’s a good reason why they’re faster. They’re more lightly built, they require bigger crews to handle their greater sail area, they don’t have lovely glowing teak joinery down below, or a fridge to keep the beers cool.
Similarly, if you have a racing boat, don’t complain that she’s wet and bounces around like a cork. Don’t curse about the money you have to spend on new sails and the work of keeping the bottom smooth and slippery. Lack of headroom? Well, of course. Tall cabintops cause windage — bad for racing boats. No fridge? Real men don’t need no damn fridges. Who keeps beer long enough anyway?
The message is simple. Learn to love what you’ve got. It’s like marriage. Appreciate the good bits. Grit your teeth and ignore the other bits. And don’t drive yourself mad lusting after what belongs to your neighbor.
He who is contented with his lot has the greatest and surest riches.
— Publilius Syrus, Sententiæ
Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #219
Wave heights of between 40 and 50 feet are common in heavy gales in some oceans, but there have been many reports of single waves much bigger, probably riding on the backs of other waves. A wave 80 feet high was observed from the steamship Majestic in the North Atlantic in December 1922, and meteorological authorities considered the sighting authentic. It’s safe to assume that in a whole gale in the open sea, many breakers 6 feet or more in height will spill down the fronts of waves. Furthermore, a plunging breaker as tall as 55 percent of a boat’s length on deck will almost certainly capsize her if it strikes beam-on.
Strawberry A said to Strawberry B:
“If we hadn’t been in that bed together we wouldn’t be in this jam today.”
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