With a combined 50-plus years of boating experience under our keels, much of it together on our various boats over the past two decades, my wife Elizabeth (a.k.a. the Admiral) and I have been thinking about The Next Boat. We usually see eye to eye on trivial matters like personal finances and parenthood. But when it comes to the important stuff, like choosing The Next Boat, our charted courses are, at this moment, diverging. What’s a yacht designer to do when his wife starts making noise about a new one?
By way of some perspective, we have cruised the Great Lakes as a family for the past six years aboard By Design, a Tiara convertible. Tiara builds great boats; not only are they a client of mine but, to paraphrase the old Remington razor commercial, “I like Tiaras so much I bought one myself.” (You can thank me later for this unpaid endorsement, Tiara.) The boat has been good to us. So good, in fact, that it’s hard for us to want to leave the brand in search of The Next Boat.
But others constantly tempt us. I’m enticed by big convertibles, like a neighbor’s Viking, and another friend’s Hatteras. I have always appreciated a fast sportfisherman as an ideal Great Lakes cruiser, because at 30 knots one can cross the widest span of Lake Michigan in just two and a half hours if the conditions are right. Plus, nothing beats a 170-square-foot cockpit at anchor. More room for friends to spill guacamole on the sole.
The Admiral is tempted by long range motoryachts, which would mean waving goodbye to the house in May and not returning until October since my office is a three-minute walk to our marina.
Why not just design a pilothouse cruiser with a big cockpit, you ask? If only it were that easy! If money were no object, I’d just have a custom yacht built to my own design. The Next Boat should be something that has a few years of depreciation under her keel, so we’re limited to what’s out there now. And what’s out there now are a few boats I like, and a few boats she likes, but thus far little to agree on except our current boat.
She wants stairs to the flybridge. I want a ladder. She wants big, clear windows that open wide enough to get a soaking wet Newfoundland through. I want deeply tinted windows, and none at all across the front of the deckhouse. She wants to blast through 8-foot seas at 12 knots. I want to blast around at 30 knots.
She wants portlights. “I don’t want to live in a world without portlights!” she recently declared in the cockpit of By Design during a wine-induced sunset conversation about The Next Boat. I want a clean profile, devoid of today’s goofy hullside window shapes to the greatest extent possible.
She wants a comfy watch berth behind the enclosed wheelhouse. I want an open bridge. She wants smaller engines and less complexity. I want an engine room large enough to play pickleball in. (I have never played pickleball in my life. But if there are actual pickles involved, I’ll suddenly be much more interested.) And for the love of all that is good and holy, I want ONE drawer in the master head that’s just for MY stuff.
We’ll be enjoying our faithful Tiara for at least the rest of the year. Which is fine, because I have my ladder, my tinted salon windows, a decent turn of speed and no stupid-looking hullside windows. And I know right where to duck in my familiar engine room.
Besides, I have a project or two I want to finish before I even begin to think about handing my boat over to the next owner. I should set this laptop down right now and pick up a varnish brush. Or a multimeter. Maybe The Next Boat can wait another season or two.