Austin, Texas. Yesterday I went Surfing with my good friend Darin, otherwise known as Creamy, which is short for Cream Corn, a long lost nick name from our days together as river guides in Colorado. We where the Corn Brothers. Sweet Corn (that’s me) and Cream Corn (Darin). Affectionately know as Sweetie and Creamy. How we ended up with such a silly set of nicknames is point of history that we often debate. Suffice to say that during my second year as a river guide, his first, we were the youngest guides on the crew and we took a lot of razzing and ribbing from the older guides.
Yesterday Creamy and I where down on the Gulf Coast at Port Aransas. Hot is a word that comes to my mind. Hot and muggy. The only way to keep cool was to get in the water. So we went surfing. Darin has been surfing about as many times as I have been out clubbing, which is to say not very many.
So there you have me, a newbie surfer and Darin, a rank beginner. I cannot put to paper how much fun we had. It was great. I was able to get up on the board more than once, and more than once I fell off because I ran out of wave, not because I lost my balance. There where, of course, many, many times that I stood up to promptly fall off –immediately. Long live the adventures of the Corn Brothers.
Darin had come down to the coast not only to surf, but to look at the last few boats I had on my list. My insomnia seems to have abated just a little now that the search phase of the boat hunt has finished. What I have learned is immeasurable. True to the teaching of Captain Joseph, I have been ruthless in my poking and prodding of the boats that I have looked at. I have also been ruthless in my evaluation of our needs in comparison to the ability of the boats.
I cannot say that I have come up empty handed. Yet I cannot say I have found “the boat”. Accepted wisdom says that you will know the boat when you see it. If that is really the way this endeavor works, I have not see the right boat yet. But I must admit, there are a few contenders. None prefect, but a few that will do the job. None exactly what I want. But then that is the rub isn’t it? The perfect boat does not exist. So what I have really gained from this experience is the concrete knowledge of what I want and what we don’t want. The list is short, and has some wiggle room. I do not think that my list is unreasonable. The list:
The boat must have, or be able to, via design and budget, have the following attributes.
- Headroom. A given. S and I are both tall people. I would do no good to bonk our heads.
- Comfortable berthing. Both at anchor and at sea. I looked at one boat that was amazing. But the berth was to small width wise and it was in the main salon, necessitating the making and unmaking of our sleeping arrangements each day. Not acceptable. It must fit the both of us comfortably both width and length.
- Adequate Tankage. I want to not really worry about water. The answer is to have plenty of tankage aboard. Some would suggest a water-maker. I think that a water-maker is just one more thing to break. Simplicity will rule our boat. In addition, the perfect solution has the water in 2 or 3 separate tanks, just in case of a leak or contamination.
- In addition to water, we need to be able to run the iron genny as needed. Given my desire to cruise the higher latitudes where sometimes, the wind doesn’t blow or the ice requires more go than the sails can give, having the ability motor a bit (as much as the idea makes me cringe) is a necessity.
- Those are the inherent design features we need in a boat. Yes, tankage can be augmented with jugs on deck or extra tanks below. Something that gives us flexibility. But even if I have a boat with 100 gallons of water, I would still take 40 gallons in jerry jugs on the deck. So the more built in tankage the better.
- Then comes the issue of equipment. There is a continuum of complexity. On one side you would find Pete and Annie Hill on Badger and Lynn and Larry Pardey on Taliesin. Both couples the poster children of simplicity. On the other end, you find Steve and Linda Dashew. Big Boats, lots of gear, even if arranged in a beautiful simplicity of its own, the mere presence of so many bells and whistles and the general size of the boats they advocate puts them on the opposite side of the complexity continuum.
- We definitely fall in to the simple side of the continuum. But not all the way to the simple side. That said, what I want is:
- SSB: Single Side Band. Here is point of flexibility. This is a piece of equipment that can be added to the boat, budget allowing.
- Windvane: All I can say is: “You think I am going to hand steer for more than a few miles? You CRAZY!”
- Auto-Pilot: See Windvane.
- Shade: Even as the debate of how helpful or how detrimental exposure to the sun is, I will not ask my fair-skinned soon to be wife to live on a boat that she, and I for the matter, can not escape the pounding sun.
So there it is. A simple list of needs. Did I mention I want this all in a boat that is less than 35 feet, drafts no more than 5 feet 6 inches, can point higher than 50 degrees off the wind, carries more than 87 square feet of sail per ton, and is made of steel!
Putting this all to paper reminds me of an old joke. A man finds a genie in a bottle and is granted only one wish. The man is deathly afraid of flying and has always wanted to go to Hawaii, so he asks the genie to build him a highway to Hawaii. The genie laughs. Your kidding, do you know how long it would take me to build a 2000 mile high way over 30,000 foot deep water to some little island? The genie tells the man to pick something else; so he says, ok, I want to understand women. The genie’s response:
So, how many lanes do you want? 2 or 4?
So thinking about my sailboat wants; I can hear the genie asking me, so how many lanes? 2 or 4.
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