Rambling thoughts

Bob Hicks, editor of the small journal “Messing About in Boats,” wrote in his March column about discovering some old yachting journals in a small box in the attic of his barn. Of the attic he said: “now containing 60 years worth of stuff too good to toss out but not otherwise of immediate need.”

I think that is a good description and one that will be easily recognized by a lot of folks. The home in which we now live is the place where we have lived for the longest time of our lives. It contains numerous things that are “too good to toss out but not otherwise of immediate need.” Recently it has begun to occur to us that among those items are quite a few things in which our children have no interest whatsoever.

It is rummage sale time at the church, which is a perfect time for those of us who have those sorts of things. We’ve delivered a number of boxes and still have one more day before the deadline for bringing items to donate to the sale. It always amazes me how much merchandise our church comes up with to sell at two rummage sales each year. The sales are monumental efforts, involving hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours. The work is accomplished with good spirit and it is very good for the members of the church to work together.

One of the things about Hicks’ magazine, however, is that he is the kind of person who keeps that sort of thing. From time to time he reprints an article from an old magazine that is fun to read. This month it is a report about coastal and inland yachting and yacht clubs that originally appeared in the Century Magazine in May, 1892. That, of course, was a different century. The article gives details on many different types of boats with their advantages and disadvantages. It also reviews many yacht clubs, including commentary on their club houses. It draws a few conclusions which the passing of another century and a quarter have proven to be quite a way off of the mark. For example, the article states, “So the catamaran, after a just trial by a jury of all the yachters, has disappeared, and is not likely to be seen again.” Of course multi-hull boats, both sail and engine powered fill a large variety of roles in the contemporary boating scene including small recreational catamarans, world-cruising catamarans and trimarans, ferries and other larger ships. They got that particular prediction wrong. There were a few other observations in the article that are laughable from the perspective of today’s point of view.

Another thing that the article got wrong was the prediction that yachting and yacht clubs would soon become the province of working class folks. The prices of that particular kind of boat and the fees associated with membership in those clubs have made them very exclusive indeed. A slip in the Lincoln Harbor Yacht Club on the Hudson River in New York can run over $8,000 per month with winter storage running about $45 per foot of boat. That’s just the cost of parking the boat. It can be a costly proposition to keep a yacht in a city - or any other place for that matter.

One of the magazines of the yachting set is called “Sail.” It is a beautiful glossy magazine with advertisements showing gleaming yachts with luxury living quarters that exceed any hotel I’ve ever visited. Recently Sail ran an article examining “pocket cruisers.” Pocket cruisers, to my way of thinking are sailboats that are small enough to be easily trailered, so they can be launched for a short trip and retrieved for storage at home. They generally have very modest accommodations for a couple of people to sleep in a sort of camping type of arrangement, with perhaps a portable toilet, a couple of bunks, a small burner, a cooler and perhaps a small sink. Generally the cabins in pocket cruisers are too short to stand up, except perhaps right in the hatchway. They’re OK for an overnight, but not a place where one could live for an extended trip.

Sail’s article came to the conclusion that the ideal “Pocket Cruiser” is the Bavaria 34’ cruiser. They seem to be operating with a different definition of pocket cruiser than I. The Bavaria 34 has a two or three cabin layout with a complete head with a stand-up shower, a galley that rivals any luxury RV, complete with refrigerator and freezer, microwave and a completely gimbaled oven and stove. If you are willing to go world-wide in your search for a used version of this boat, you might find one in the $100,000 - $150,000 range. While the boat is technically trailerable, you wouldn’t want to plan on rigging, launching and sailing in a single day and the same is true for hauling and putting down the mast. And you’ll need a one-ton truck to pull that trailer as well. That’s another $80,000. It is a nice boat, just not what many of us have in mind when we think of a pocket cruiser.

Then again I’m not a subscriber to Sail.

It is a bit interesting to me because while the folks who support that magazine and who agree with its conclusions about boats would definitely consider myself to not be in their class when it comes to income and available capital to invest in a boat and I would agree with them, I’m not exactly what folks would consider to be impoverished. A couple of days ago, I had an extended conversation with a couple of folks who were likely to be sleeping in their vehicle for the foreseeable future. They don’t have good prospects for getting together deposits or rent anytime soon. They didn’t have any food or money for food. I guess gas for their vehicle became a higher priority at the moment. I did help them with some food, perhaps a day’s worth, and gave them some leads on other places to get fed, but I couldn’t solve their housing crisis. They must have looked on me, with reliable vehicles, a warm home, and a steady income as being very wealthy. It is all a matter of perspective.

The good news, I guess, is that unlike that article in a box in Bob Hicks’ barn attic, no one is going to keep the articles I write for more than a century to be read for amusement by armchair critics. That is, I think, a good thing.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!