I'm sliding south
on the Intracoastal just past Jupiter, Florida, at the helm of the prototype
52-foot Midnight Lace with a narrow 13-foot beam. I don't reduce
throttle as I blast past a big Swan puffboat at 23 knots. Startled, the
guy in the cockpit looks over and gives me the finger. No surprise to
veteran power skippers except for one little thing: Instead of the expected
upright middle digit, he's giving me a big "thumbs up!"
The process will be repeated many times by ragstuffers in appreciation
of the Lace's minimal wake and snarky, low profile. Just one of
the reasons why I love skinny boats.
developed my taste for long, skinny boats as a teenager in the 1950's
when I was a mate on the 62-foot Consolidated commuter Go Go on Long Island
Sound. Her beam was only about 11 feet, and she ran like a champ (despite
her original 30-year-old Speedway engines), consistently blowing away
newer boats such as the triple-screw Chris-Crafts, Huckins, Matthews,
and Wheelers. Since then, I've always been an advocate of long,
skinny boats, boats with an overall length-to-beam ratio of about four
in the 50-foot range. Now, however, I am ready to be labeled a turncoat
by advocates of narrow boats, many of which I created over the years with
the original line of Laces. Well, sometimes you just gotta remove your
coat, turn it inside out, and carry on. The brand-new 52 Lace is substantially
beamier than her older sisters--up from 13 feet on the original 52-foot
boat to a colossal 16'6" on the new boat--and people are asking
A car story will
help explain things. I own a 1971 Corvette with a 454 "rat"
engine. At idle it shakes my house and the house next door and instills
fear in the neighborhood cats and dogs. Stand on the gas, and the accelerator
pump shoots raw fuel into the carb's black holes like a garden hose.
One quick blast from a dead stop to 80 mph, and you can actually see the
gas gauge fall. I might get 10 mpg when the monster is in tune, and I
don't much care because this is a "weekend car," used
for short blasts hither and yon. During the week, the beast is demurely
kept in the garage under cover while I drive a more sensible rig to and
from work and on trips. Ten mpg is not a problem because a full tank will
probably last me six months.
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