Sorry to take so long and thank you very much. You don't do so bad yourself. Your style is just a tad bit more direct (see what I did there?). But you seem to have keen sense of humor
, perhaps a wee bit wry. I like that.
I cannot but agree with your assessment of boaters and their choice of boats. I learned to sail in Florida
, the great jumping off point for tourists-turned-expats, retirees, newly minted liveaboard
cruisers and power boaters. It's a place where the power in powerboat has deep psychological connotations and the weather and the choices of people can best be as described as the sometimes malicious lovechild of Mr Magoo and the spirit of whimsy. There, yachtsmen are rare indeed.
Had an acquaintance that bought an old Morgan classic on-the-cheap, he and his young paramour. They were a sweet but odd couple. Somehow they resembled a more reserved Sonny and Cher. She was the sweet one. Neither was slow of wit. David was a bit opinionated, but not in a bad way; just unique.
was pickled on their choice of boat, so it had sat without offers and steeped in neglect, floating in a canal near St. Pete Beach. The boat, save for the standing rigging
, was essentially bald and wearing a tattered tarp that hung low to one side like a bandanna with an eye patch. Fully in character, it sported a barnacle beaded beard below the waterline. I suspect she wouldn't have done a knot
, even if the engine
They spent nearly a year there, bringing it back from gross indifference between classes
and work. They named it some poetic nautical pun and moved aboard sooner than they should have. But in all that time, David never even looked at the diesel
. He would rather beat to weather in a narrow channel for hours than consider motoring. Like I said, he was unique.
Full sails, he would approach a moorage CBDR, to the horror of the floating RVers, gently swinging on a hook. Knowing his spot well in advance, he'd bear off to a fisherman's reef, lash the helm and stroll nonchalantly down the windward gunwale to the foredeck to drop an anchor
right on cue. His yacht would neatly come about at the set of the Bruce and luff the sails. David would then leisurely douse 'em to the dismay of his audience.
When David didn't drop sail a mile away like everyone else, they were sure his halyards were fouled. When then figured out that this is how he intended to set anchor
, they would grumble tedious phrases like, "Well, I never!", and that was the problem. They hadn't and he just did.
David despised an engine as cheating. His was a sailboat and he was a sailor. But he never disparaged the less stringent interpreters of the term. Instead he viewed them with compassion, as if they had just missed the point and therefore missed out on the joy of it all. He took to lashing a long oar to a cleat on the stern of his old Morgan and would maneuver his baby in harbor like a gondola. Don't know where he got it, but it was huge and he was good. Who does that?
We watched him drop his oar through the bow pulpit once and back the yacht along a gentle arc
into a visitor's slip by himself, narrowly ensconced by several million dollars of floating ego-driven nauticus. He accomplished this with oar in hand and boat hook at his feet, against an ebb tide and a steady ten knot
breeze across the aft port quarter. He played the wind against the tide like a stripper plays a lonely cop at a traffic stop - deftly.
Appropriately, Rocco and I watched from the shade of a grassy knoll as we waited on our prospective charters to inspect and inventory the CSY
. Normally we provided everything on a charter
, but some would rather do it themselves. Over crackers, cheese and Merlot (sipped from cans marked Cherry Coke), we watched David, the boat and the drama around him unfold. We howled! We clutched our aching sides as tears of laughter streamed down our faces. But it was their faces you should have seen.
Hearing the ruckus from some 30 or 40 meters away, our prospects came up on deck and joined in the fun. We all screamed our support and cheered him on as the self-titled 'harbor master' and a few indignant boat owners approached fits of apoplexy. It was, to turn a phrase, an epic display of savant seamanship, a complete disregard for marina protocols and a joy to behold. And David was right. They had all missed the point.
David might have been the best natural sailor I had ever seen and for about five years, he and his sweethearts (his girl and his yacht) were common topics of conversation in our community. Intensely aware of his surroundings, he always had a plan. David didn't normally care how long it took to get there as long as he was prepared, provisioned and going. He was happy in the here and now, especially if he was sailing. You wouldn't think it to look at him, but I suspect he came from money
and would one day return to it.
In late summer, some thirty-odd years ago, David and his biggest fan took on her brother and his
betrothed as partners and crew. I wish I could remember their names like I can still see their faces. They had sailed together for several months that summer all over the Sun Coast to solidify their relationship and establish a pecking order. Any casual observer could tell they were a team and David was their skipper
The four of them hauled the boat in mid-winter at a yard in Tampa. They spent some time repainting the bottom, servicing the rigging, repairing worn ground tackle and replacing sails and the like. A friend cut and sewed the new sails, so I heard all the scuttlebutt. Throughout this time they continued to live aboard, so we only saw them rarely. The yard in Tampa seemed like a world away from Dunedin.
Meanwhile, they grew closer together and settled on a number of compromises, one of which I never saw coming. Eventually, they had the yard drop a brand new diesel
in the boat under the agreement that David never had to touch it.
In early Spring, we met on the causeway for burgers, grouper sandwiches and drinks at our old hangout. Strange the details that stay with you through the years. I remember our order and I remember it as a special occasion, but I can't recall
why. Then sometime in the late 80s, the four of them sailed out of Tampa Bay. We never saw them again.
Originally Posted by Snowpetrel
I enjoy your writing Careknot, thank you for your humorous, well thought out and well written posts.
It's complex, for me the old racing boat is more about satisfaction and not needing to turn the key to get places fast. Overall I think many of the average cruisers could be better served with a good displacement
powerboat rather than a yacht, and many yachts end up being used more as motorsailers for many coastal passages.
I know with me on a delivery
or if pushed for time coastal I will typically motor
50-70% of the time (much as it pains me to admit it!). The wind is often either too light, or too strong (so I stay in port), or from the wrong direction so I motorsail.
This aluminium 79 two tonner I have now sails brilliantly in the meerest whif of wind and cuts to windward as painlessly as any boat I have been on. And she is just such a pleasure to sail! As long as I don't push her to hard downwind her manners are impeccable.
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