I am 59, birthed late in the class of '47. I have been boating
literally all my life, first on sailboats (over 30 years) and now via power. I love sailboats but in this part of the world (Florida, the Keys, Bahamas) sailboats are for daysailing - you go out, find the wind
and have a good time. For passagemaking hereabouts, sailboats are a pain in the tookus. I can't tell you now many times I have sailed to the Keys or the Bahamas
with either no wind
at all or the wind on our nose. On one long and tedious trip I realized that I was motoring far more than I was sailing and I came to understand that PASSAGEMAKING sailors do indeed motor
most of the time around here.
I happened to hitch a ride one time with a friend on his trawler
and, God please forgive me, I loved it. We went in a straight line, the boat stayed level, it had lots more room than my 41' sailboat, the cabins were full of light from the sunshine streaming through the large windows and there was almost no work to do while were were steaming along - no sails
to tend, no trimming to ponder, no waiting for bridges to open. I felt like I was betraying my sailing heritage but I could not get past the smile on my face when I was on that trawler
Fast forward, I went over to the dark side. I bought a single engine
, 38' trawler. But I kept my sailboat for three more years, sure that I would come to hate either myself or my trawler for giving up the sailing. Eventually I had to admit that near-shore passagemaking and coasting were a lot easier on the trawler than on my ketch
. So I put the sailboat on the market and she was gone from my life.
I have to admit here that I still have pangs of lust when I see a beautiful sailboat catching just the right breeze out on the Gulf of Mexico
. But then I remember all those times when all I could do was motorsail when I wanted to actually go somewhere and I am happy with my decision.
As an aside, last week I spoke with a local sailor who has a 45' Columbia sloop
. He had just returned from a trip which totalled about 1000 miles. After we'd had a few beers together I asked him to be honest with me and tell me how much time he spent under power while he was underway. Chagrinned, he admitted that the iron genny was lit up almost 90% of the time. But of course, he still thinks I am a traitor to sailors everywhere for owning a stinkpot.
Getting back to my story, I was cruising in the Florida Keys
several years ago on my 38' trawler when I stopped and anchored at a well known harbor. This place has a great watering hole that also has a large bulletin board located between the bar and the men's bathroom (great, strategic location). As I passed by I could not help but notice a For Sale
sign advertising a well known brand of 50' motor
yacht for sale
at a fire sale price
. As I was in the loo staring at the wall I kept thinking to myself that if I was at all smart then I would never again look at that ad for the 50 footer and I would walk right past it and back to my beautiful woman who was waiting for my return at the bar. (The Keys are desperately short of women and full of desperately horny men
, so you can't leave your lady alone at the bar for too long or when you return she might not be there.)
Thirty days later I owned that 50 footer and, of course, the 38' trawler.
I fell in love with the 50 footer and rationalized that for the two of us cruising together this boat would be ideal - lots more room, privacy for us both whenever we needed it, lots more speed for outrunning squalls, waterspouts and the occasional pirate-wannabe. This was to be my forever boat, I was convinced.
So I put the 38' trawler on the market and sometime later I was down to just one boat. It felt wonderful. (I know, I know - it is stupid to ever own two boats. I never said I was mensa material.)
Fast forward several more years and now the woman is long gone and the 50 footer is way too much boat for me to handle by myself. Plus, it has very large and very thirsty diesel
engines. When I bought her the price
was under $1.00 a gallon, now it is well north of $3.00 a gallon.
So now the plan is to make the 50 footer shine with paint
and polish and TLC and to put her on the market. When she sells I will look at buying
a much smaller single engine
trawler that I can manage alone, probably under 36 feet in length.
I am not going back to sail, although I still love sailboats and still lust for them when I see one in full sail on the horizon. As I have aged I have had to understand that smaller is better and that motoring along in a trawler is, for me, the way to go. The most important thing is to just own a boat and to get out on the water
as much as I possibly can because when I am on the water
that tuning fork that I have inside me, the one we all have inside us, chimes a perfect note and I am content and one with nature.
Short of the long, that is how I plan to spend the days that I have left - on the water in a boat that I can handle, not dependent on any crew or rigging
or the wind being from the right direction. I'll be the one quietly moving along the Florida Gulf coast
, heading for the Keys and the Bahamas
. Hail me if you see me, I'll always have an extra Heiniken or two to share with you. We can sit on the deck
in a peaceful anchorage and swap lies and marvel at the wonder that is boating
and being on the water,
Your mileage may vary. Michael.