February 12, 2012

The ideal boat

I SAW A QUOTE by Carl Lane recently. He said: "You are not going to find the ideal boat. You are not even going to have it if you design it from scratch."

Now Mr. Lane, who died in 1995, was a very perceptive author who wrote a great deal about boats. Many of his boating books were best sellers and his other writing was widely published in such magazines as the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's. Peter Spectre, the well-known New England writer, once described Carl Lane as having "a monomaniacal love of boats and boating."

But, with all due respect, Mr. Lane was wrong. Many of us have found the ideal boat. And those of us who haven't found it yet simply need to change the definition of ideal.

One of life's great lessons is that it's possible to live with a partner who is not perfect in all respects. In fact, love is not requiring your partner to be perfect. You can eventually learn to love your loved one's faults. Or, alternatively, you can ignore them. And the same goes for boats. Boats are what they are. It's you that has to change. You must come to terms with the word "ideal."

An ideal boat is one that does the job it was designed for. Of course, many boaters expect their boats to be jacks of all trades.  They take daysailers cruising. They drive coastal cruisers across oceans, and so forth. The fact that the boats don't always perform to perfection under these circumstances doesn't make them any less ideal. It's the owners who are at fault by expecting too much of them.

I can't think of a boat I've owned that wasn't ideal for the purpose for which it was designed and built. I will readily admit that some didn't sail very fast, but they had wonderful accommodation. Some had weather helm, but their varnish work was beautiful. For every fault, there was something to compensate. One was very fast and very wet and totally capricious in a following sea, but my god she had a beautiful sheerline and I loved her dearly.

I believe the kind of perfection Carl Lane was talking about comes second to other qualities, such as dependability, solidness, safety, reliability, ease of handling and quality of workmanship.

If you look hard enough you will find plenty of virtues in your boat. Praise the virtues and smother the faults. Then you'll realize you actually do own the ideal boat.

Today's Thought
No perfection is so absolute
That some impurity doth not pollute.
— Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece

"So you truly believe your husband's death was due to a broken heart?"
"Yes, Your Honor. If he hadn't broken my heart I wouldn't have shot him."

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

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