Sailing fans, stop reading right now. I’m about to make an embarrassing boat confession (which is why I’m sneaking it in today, on my “writing” Thursday):
Paul and I bought a powerboat.
Now pick yourself up off the floor, because I have some excellent justifications for this radical move.
Why this is such a big deal
First, a little background for non-boating readers. There is a vast and unbridgeable divide between powerboat people (“stinkpotters”) and sailboat people (“blowboaters”). I still remember the 1980s prediction of a prominent sailing magazine editor: the Arab-Israeli conflict will end long before sailors and powerboaters come to any sort of understanding. Shortly after I was born, my older brother apparently asked our father why anyone would own a powerboat; Dad responded, “Because they don’t yet know how to sail.”
Hence this blog’s title. For two lifelong sailors, buying anything motorized bigger than a center console or dinghy definitely begs explanation.
Why would two sailors buy a powerboat?
When Paul sold his Archambault 31 last year, we both knew that we wanted to continue cruising around New England—but also agreed that the next boat should be easier to manage. After many winter window-seat chats, we kept coming back to the same conclusion: a small overnightable powerboat was the best compromise. Something big enough to transport us and our wingfoil gear and SUPs to many of our favorite harbors, without requiring the perfect weather window to get home again.
The right powerboat, of course
After copious research and a few in-person inspections, Paul put down a deposit on a Nauset 27 we’ve named Pierre. (There’s a story there too, of course.) The buying process was pleasantly straightforward, thanks to a trustworthy seller—and our acceptance of the many quirks that come along with a 40 year old boat. After a few modifications to make it “ours,” including a renaming ceremony, we cast off for our first mini-cruise: an 80-mile, two-day run to Jamestown.
Perfectly rational hindsight
It wasn’t until I’d logged a few hours running the boat that I realized; I can personally justify this new adventure as research! One of the many struggles while writing Ferry to Cooperation Island (which continues with the sequel) was my complete lack of muscle-memory about operating a small ferry boat. I’ve asked a lot of questions of friends who run similar vessels, but I still don’t know what I don’t know. What’s it like to depend on a finicky motor to cross open water, regardless of the wind and weather?
Pierre is only about half the size of the fictional Homer, and we definitely aren’t signing on to four runs a day, year round. But I’ve now experienced the unique vibrations of standing watch while listening for any change in the vibrations underfoot—so I can infuse that new body-knowledge into what my characters feel on their next ferry ride.
Guilty as charged
As for the elephant in the room, our increased carbon footprint… well, that will be partially offset by all the car-gallons we would otherwise be burning on family visits. But we’ll still have to live with some guilt, knowing we are a bigger part of the problem—a definite change for two wind-powered lives.
Don’t worry, sailors; next week, I’ll be back on topic once again. Between Snipes, wingfoiling, model boat racing, Matsya, and other people’s boats, there will be plenty of summer tales more pleasing to all of the readers I can now call “blowboaters.” But I might also blog again about future stinkpotting on Pierre—and all that boring old research. You have been warned!
How about you—got an opinion about powerboats (good or otherwise)? Share it in the comments below, or by email. I read every single one, with thanks.