Boats Are Like Golf Clubs, Part II

Spectator — June 2001

By Tom Fexas

Boats Are Like Golf Clubs,
Part II
More boats I really need.
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: More Boats
• Part 2: More Boats continued
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Last month we explored the reasons why different boats, like different golf clubs, are needed for different purposes. I figured I needed a minimum of 11 vessels. The list concludes this month.

Of course, I need a large motoryacht--something that can be Med-moored at the quay at Portofino between all the other large motoryachts and be big enough that it will not make me feel insignificant. I could eat or bask on the aft deck, and people would walk by and point to me, speculating on just how wealthy I am and from where I stole the money.

The problem is, large yachts require a large crew intruding on my privacy and always causing problems. Therefore, my large motoryacht will be easily handled by two people. She will be 60 feet long with a 40-foot beam and six decks high. Then, when Med-moored, her stern will appear bigger than that of all the others, even though she can easily be handled by my wife and me. 

I must have a classic wooden powerboat like the kind I grew up on because fiberglass boats are too damned perfect. I miss the chores associated with old wooden powerboats: varnishing acres of brightwork, replacing rotted wood in the hull and superstructure, and crawling around the bilges with a sponge, trying to trace leaks.

There is nothing smarter on the water than a well-maintained wooden cruiser--say, a 1954 53-foot Chris-Craft Constellation. By the way, before it was sold to the Brits, Chris-Craft came out with a line of "retro boats," but in my opinion it was not retro enough. The company only went back to the `60s, when most boats looked alike. It should have gone back to the `50s, when Chris-Crafts stood alone with their outstanding styling. Beautiful raked bows with bullnosed stem heads, varnished strip mahogany or teak main decks, varnished mahogany cabin sides, custom chrome-on-bronze deck fittings liberally sprinkled throughout the boat, softly rounded superstructures, and the most beautiful transoms--raked and radiused to perfection--with two large exhaust pipes that produced a sound at idle unlike any other boat. I need a boat that makes those exhaust sounds, plus I really miss using Calahans chiltered varnish. 

Don't laugh. I want a day sailer in my boat inventory just so I don't forget how the other half  lives. I need to know what it feels like to be waked ("waked" is a verb invented by a zephyr boater). I need to know firsthand how it feels to be out sailing on a hot day, sweating in my miserable little unprotected cockpit, when a powerboat comes by and the owner dumps a tray of ice overboard just as he passes me. I need to know how it feels to be whacked in the head by a swinging boom and to walk around on perpetually tilted decks with salt water running down my butt. And besides, only a sailboat entitles me to speak "sailing lingo." I could sit at a yacht club bar and confidently proclaim things like, "Yeah, I was beating into a nor'easter when mais'il parted at the clew, so I had to climb the rattlin's because the sheet got jammed in the topping lift."

Owning a sailboat also would allow me to wear some salty clothes. You know the sailing uniform--beat-up, salt-encrusted topsiders, ratty, dirty tyrolean shorts, and a torn, salt-encrusted T-shirt that proclaims something cool like "Folk Boats Forever." Obtaining these clothes is not a problem because I understand there are places you can buy preweathered sailing clothes so you don't have to go through all the trouble of actually sailing to look salty.

Oh yeah! It would also allow me to have a scraggily, out of control beard inhabited by various denizens of the insect world feeding on morsels of meals from the last five years. Finally, owning a sailboat qualifies me to be as tight as a clam's butt when it comes to spending money.

Next page > More Boats, continued > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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