I think we've all experienced occasions when a boat deliberately seems to behave in a surly, provocative manner. How often do vital irreplaceable parts jump overboard for no good reason? How often does the rudder refuse to respond when you're approaching your berth too fast in a cross-current? How often does the engine fail to start when you really desperately need it? Can incidents like this really be written down to nothing more than coincidence?
A young man discovers, quite early on if he's lucky, that there are three kinds of girls: a few who like you, a whole host who are indifferent to you, and a few who actively dislike you or maybe even hate you.
The trouble is that men are all too often strangely attracted to women who dislike them. So the question is: Are men also attracted to boats who dislike them? Boats with bad souls. Boats that make leeway, won't heave to, won't steer in reverse. Boats with terrible weather helm and bunks too short to sleep in, boats with no room to service the engine, and boats that are unmanageable in bad weather.
Men are attracted to a beautifully curved sheerline, to glitzy paint and varnish, a racy bow, and a callipygian stern. Men who lack experience in this area are attracted to slim, lightweight hulls that are fast to windward and scant on fastenings.
But these meretricious charms also serve to distract a man's attention from a boat's faults: the rotten keel bolts, the case-hardened chainplates, the deck leaks from flexing stanchions, and the blocked breather tube that makes the head holding tank overflow.
The obvious lesson is that you must learn to take a long and very careful look at any boat that attracts you. See how she reacts. Read her soul. Study her emotions. Decide if she flirts with you, ignores you, or bares her teeth at you.
Don't waste time on any boat that doesn't flirt with you. If you ignore this advice, be prepared for a long and bitter road ahead.
Many a man has fallen in love with a girl in a light so dim he would not have chosen a suit by it.— Maurice Chevalier.
TailpieceThe other day we were talking about the metric system and what a crock it is.
In similar vein, I have discovered a decidedly superior list of definitions for measurements. Here are some you might care to remember:
The ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter: Eskimo Pi.
One thousand kilograms of Chinese soup: Won ton.
The time between slipping on a peel and hitting the sidewalk: One bananosecond.
The weight an evangelist carries with God: One Billigram.
Drinking low-calorie beer for 365.25 days: One lite year.
Half a large intestine: One semi-colon.
Basic unit of laryngitis: One hoarsepower.
One thousand cubic centimeters of wet socks: One literhosen.
One millionth of a fish: One microfiche.
One trillion pins: One terrapin.
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)