All to­gether now

So many boats, so lit­tle time. (Life is short.)

Boating - - NEWS - Kevin Falvey, Edi­tor-in-Chief edi­tor@boat­ing­mag.com By Kevin Falvey

In the be­gin­ning, boat­ing and boats were much more ho­moge­nous than they are to­day. Boats came in small sizes and had out­boards, and they came in larger sizes and had in­boards. A yacht possessed twin en­gines, likely of the diesel per­sua­sion. Kayaks were known but un­com­mon. Later on, the stern­drive came along and vied with the out­board for the af­fec­tions of own­ers of smaller boats.

Boats tended to all look the same in the past. At the least, they looked re­lated. The teak step pad on the gun­wale of the run­about mir­rored the teak cock­pit sole of the cruiser. The vent hole cut into the ski boat’s glove com­part­ment door was the same an­chor-shape cutout one would find in the hang­ing locker door in the mas­ter state­room of the sport-fish boat. Whether one skip­pered a 40-foot “gold plater” or a small ves­sel con­sid­ered part of the “mosquito fleet” (these “buzzed” around), rough edges of fiber­glass were of­ten as not fin­ished with a strip of riv­eted alu­minum. Two-tone color schemes, stream­lin­ing, and other au­to­mo­tive af­fec­ta­tions — in­clud­ing tail fins — were ubiq­ui­tous.

Boaters too were al­most all cut from the same cloth, tend­ing to be versed in var­i­ous watery ac­tiv­i­ties. The cou­ple with the sedan didn’t ski any­more but started out boat­ing at the end of a towrope. The avid tuna an­gler with the con­vert­ible learned to tie knots and sharpen hooks while chas­ing floun­der from a skiff. The trawler owner raced out­boards as a kid. En­gines be­ing what they then were, all were fa­mil­iar with the smell of ether. Boaters boated dif­fer­ently, but be­cause they all tended to come from the same place, and be­cause other boats had more sim­i­lar­i­ties than dif­fer­ences, they un­der­stood each other. They re­spected each other.

To­day, it’s dif­fer­ent. A 40-footer is as likely to sport out­boards as diesel power — and the term “twin screw” no longer car­ries as much panache. Boats sport re­fined de­tails, and even the small­est mod­els are so much more ca­pa­ble, ver­sa­tile and eas­ier to main­tain than their pre­de­ces­sors. En­gines are re­li­able and re­quire no ex­pe­ri­ence to start or to keep run­ning. Many boaters jump di­rectly to the “big boat” in­stead of step­ping up from a run­about to an overnighter, and then to a cruiser. Ad­vanced de­sign al­lows boats to serve with less com­pro­mise than in the past.

The world has changed. For many, the time to come up as a boater versed in a va­ri­ety of watery ac­tiv­i­ties just isn’t there, even if the de­sire is. So, we have bet­ter boats but a worse un­der­stand­ing of each other. And there are more of us. That makes it im­per­a­tive that we go out of our way to try and un­der­stand our fel­low boater. After all, we boaters don’t just share a love for the water. We share the water.

To­day, it’s dif­fer­ent. A 40-footer is as likely to sport out­boards as diesel power — and the term “twin screw” no longer car­ries as much panache.

SOFT TOUCH You’d be hard­pressed to find a more ubiq­ui­tous marine ac­ces­sory than the fen­der. Check out some buy­ing tips on page 46.

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