Tuesday, June 10, 2014
What's a boat for?
I was thumbing through one of those glossy sailing magazines. It seems boats are getting bigger and bigger. Someone noted that at 55 feet long, a boat is finally getting big enough for the necessities. It is weird to me to hear a 40 foot boat being described as a good day sailer. They claimed it's even possible to spend a week or two on it.
One surprise was seeing a lot of 45 – 55 foot boats described as coastal cruisers. What that tells is that even though the boat has some size it's not seaworthy enough to cross oceans. Most of the these boats have a draft of 7- 8 feet or even more. That alone eliminates an awful lot of coastal sailing. So we have sailboats that are unsafe in the open ocean but draw too much water to be safe close to shore. They do have very pretty interiors though.
One builder of boats in the 55+ range pointed out that they don't expect any of their buyers will be sailing around the world. They are too busy for that. So that's it, I thought. None of these boats are really for sailing. They are floating status symbols.
Now that makes some sort of sense. The new bigger boats are darn pricey. Winning the lottery is not going to allow someone to buy one. A few million dollars would only be a good down payment. No, these are boats for the 1%.
If someone is actually interested in sailing, they can get into it for a whole lot less. In fact there are plenty of good used boats, for small money, capable of being sailed just about anywhere. My lovely wife and I did plenty of coastal sailing in a 19 foot boat. We had a blast.
Here's the weird thing, we also got a certain amount of respect and status for sailing a small boat. People noticed us. They'd get excited to see us days or weeks later in another port. They commended us on our sailing skills. Quite a few people said they regretted having a big boat when a small one could do the job with less hassle. There were even a couple of people who voluntarily downsized back to smaller boats. For them it was all about the fun of sailing.
Of course, articles about sailing small old boats on the cheap don't sell a lot of glossy ads.