Sunday, April 20, 2008

MEGA yacht

To all my High School teachers and faculty who thought I’d never amount to anything; we almost bought a yacht today. And not just any yacht but a MEGA yacht. Really, a 1980, 30’ CnC Mega yacht. It’s the biggest sailboat one can buy that still fits on a trailer.

That turned out to be the problem. Fitting on a trailer means that it has a maximum beam of 8 feet. Also, to keep it from sitting too high while on the trailer the keel retracts up into the center of the boat. (This has the added value of making the boat easy to re-float should some bonehead of a captain try to sail it in shallow water.) Unfortunately to accomplish that little feat the middle of the already narrow cabin is filled with two compression poles, a lift motor and jackscrew, and a well box for the keel to retract into that is taller then the water line, (so the boat doesn’t sink). The boat also has smallish windows that are set really high in the cabin making the inside seem a bit more cave-like than other boats which, in my limited experience, are pretty cave-like already.

The Mega also has a tiller and not a wheel. It seems that real sailors prefer a tiller and so most small sailboats (less then 30 feet or so, and some that are longer) are so equipped. But I’m basically a pilot who is pretending to be a sailor and pilots like control yokes. (Well, we like sticks and throttles as well but I’ve never seen a sailboat with a stick.) It isn’t a deal breaker. We may end up with a sailboat that has a tiller and I may even find I like it better than a big old chrome wheel. But for now I still dream of standing behind my wheel to steer and one can’t stand behind a tiller. (Maybe that’s why sailors like them?)

Of course a careful review of our financial situations suggests that having a “yacht,” (even a little one that is half my age or more and needing some work) floating at a pier somewhere will be a bit of a reach. Downsizing the rolling stock around here will be necessary if there is to be any floating stock. The Saturn needs starter work. Melanie’s car needs tie-rods (or something). The house isn’t done. Sooner or later though, if a person is actually going to live on a boat, well, that person will actually have to buy a boat. And if that same person actually wants to learn how to sail eventually he (or she) will have to point the skinny end of a boat out toward the water where the waves are running and the wind is blowing, and make it happen.

Even though we didn’t buy today and we may not be buying anytime soon, we did gain some real insight into just what we are expecting out of a “starter boat.” We also spent several hours getting to know some pretty nice people. And somehow I feel like we turned a bit of a corner. For a couple of hours anyway, we weren’t just contemplating buying a boat someday and maybe living on one some other day. We were looking at “this” boat; clambering around actual rigging and sails, asking all kinds of questions, pounding on a hull looking for soft spots, and deciding if we should write a check. We were wondering if we could spend long weekends living in “this” cabin, keep “these” systems running, and make “that” thing work. It was all kind of fun.

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