I’m probably not the best-suited person for this job. Actually, I may be downright horrible. All right, maybe I should cut myself a little slack before someone lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce on my desk goes to my boss Gary to say, “See, I told you so, even he admits he’s no good.”
So, allow me to clarify my self-condemnation. You see, when it comes down to giving really meaningful advice on boats, you may be better off receiving counsel from the opinionated 16-year-old dockhand helping to tie up your boat than me. Sure, I started working in a boatyard when I was 12, and now have more than 35,000 miles of blue water under my sea boots. I’ve sold boats, restored boats, lived on boats, and worked for a boatbuilder. Yet, when it comes to saying this boat is wrong, or this boat is the way to go, I crumble.
Every time I see my friend George Jousma, president of Sanlorenzo of the Americas, he gives me grief that I’m just a traditional boat guy. He’ll go so far as to identify my supposed affinity for one particular brand.
As smart as George is, however, he doesn’t understand that I really do like all boats. And this recently became apparent to me while I flopped in the hammock next to my dock on the Connecticut River. For every boat that went by over Memorial Day Weekend, I found myself looking up and thinking, oh that’s nice, look at those guys having fun. Now, I could see myself on that. What’s the problem? Well, for one thing, the first boat that caught my attention was a pontoon boat. The folks onboard looked like they were having a blast. Kids were walking around safe behind those railings, while the captain held court in what appeared to be a La-Z-Boy recliner squeezed behind the wheel. They were on the water and theirs was the best-suited vessel for their needs. Who am I to judge?
The parade continued. Ahh, a late ’80s Carver 32 Aft Cabin. Always loved the layout of that boat and almost bought one to live aboard on the Chesapeake. Then came an older 72-foot Broward heading up the river with a flying bridge full of guests. The model has classic lines, similar to a Burger, and the story goes that Broward owner Frank Denison was paying close attention to Burger at the time and came in with the 72 as the value play. An Edgewater 245 with twin Yamaha 150s sped by, reminding me how much I missed mine. I would take her out on a weekday and drop the hook with the newspaper and, shhh, take a nap. Ever since I sold that boat I find myself on a quest for a wee bit of naptime. Is that too much to ask?
Then came a new Sabre 48, which was perfectly trimmed. In complete contrast was a Sunseeker 48 Superhawk with triple Mercs. Hmm, that would be one quick way to get to Montauk. A Marlow 70E cruised past at displacement speed and looked pristine. I’ve been friends with company founder David Marlow for years and feel the urge to snap a shot of one his boats every time I spot one, and I see them everywhere now.
The hits just kept on coming. The weekend experience was glued to my dull brain while we put together our New Classic features in the July 2013 issue. On the cover we ask, “What is a Classic?” And my answer: Hell if I know. I’m simply the wrong guy to ask. Good boats that suit a particular market will be successful, and may even define a builder’s future. That’s where our team netted out. We reviewed a few new boats in the aforementioned issue and also took a look back at iconic models that really helped define the brands.
We’re starting a list of the Top 50 Classic Boats of All Time. What’s the criteria? You select a model and send me a few sentences to firstname.lastname@example.org on why the boat is a classic to you. Lord knows I can’t make a decision. I’ll see you on the water.