Be­ing a cap­tain to­day is like run­ning Dis­ney World at sea.

Yachting - - INSIGHTS - by jay coyle

It’s eas­ier to find a qual­i­fied buyer than an ex­pe­ri­enced cap­tain th­ese days,” my yacht bro­ker pal Tom ex­plained in frus­tra­tion. ¶ I men­tioned my cap­tain friend John, who’d been ma­rooned ashore with end­less honey-do lists. “He’s got a bit of wa­ter un­der his keel, but he’s one of the best,” I sug­gested. ¶ “Does he have any wa­ter-toy ex­pe­ri­ence?” Tom asked. ¶ “Huh?” I replied. ¶ Tom told me that to­day’s se­ri­ous new-build projects re­quire not only a yacht de­signer, in­te­rior de­signer, yacht stylist and builder, but also a wa­ter-toy con­sul­tant. “You can’t keep Gen Xers and mil­len­ni­als en­gaged with foos­ball and video games,” Tom said. He di­rected me to an im­age of a pop­u­lar yacht list­ing. She had a mas­sive in-ocean swim­ming pool stuffed with wa­ter toys teth­ered to her “teak beach” (tran­som plat­form). ¶ “Coyle, I’m sure your cap­tain friend can keep the tiller straight, but if he wants to get back into the game, he’s gonna have to get up to speed on this stuff,” Tom said. “He’ll need train­ing: Jet Skis. Fly­boards. Semi-sub­mersibles. Am­phibi­ous ve­hi­cles. That sort of thing. Of course, it’d be great if he hap­pened to have a pi­lot’s li­cense or any ex­pe­ri­ence with un­der­sea ve­hi­cles.” ¶ “Sub­marines?” I asked in dis­be­lief. “Geez!” ¶ “Coyle, a Coast Guard li­cense just isn’t enough any­more,” Tom in­sisted. ¶ I was sure John was still good for the job. I tracked him down at his in­tern­ment camp in the Mid­west. Back in the day, he’d man­aged a crack crew and a pristine yacht be­fore he laid a pad­dle over his shoul­der and wan­dered in­land un­til some­one asked: “What’s with the pad­dle?” When he re­tired, he’d had it with skip­per­ing, but I was sure he’d now pre­fer life at sea to rak­ing leaves. Af­ter catch­ing up, I told him about the de­mand for skip­pers and shared Tom’s im­ages of yachts in amaz­ing lo­ca­tions for in­spi­ra­tion. ¶ Re­luc­tantly, John took a look and fo­cused quickly on a 200-footer. “What the hell is that mess hang­ing off the boat deck?” John in­quired. ¶ “That is an in­flat­able rock­climb­ing wall,” I an­swered. ¶ “On a yacht? Do you wear hik­ing boots or a life jacket?” John won­dered. “What’s with the guy stand­ing on the end of the high-pres­sure hose?” ¶ “It’s a Fly­board,” I said. “Peo­ple do that for fun.” ¶ John seemed mys­ti­fied. ¶ “Is that some sort of evac­u­a­tion chute?” he asked. ¶ “No,” I ex­plained. “That’s an in­flat­able wa­ter­slide.” ¶ “This is not yacht­ing!” John barked in dis­gust. ¶ I ex­plained to John that th­ese days, wa­ter toys are a big part of what draws folks to the pas­time. John seemed con­fused. “You can get up to speed,” I told him. “I un­der­stand there’s train­ing.” ¶ “Train­ing, for God’s sake,” John grum­bled. “On my last charge, the only wa­ter toy we needed was a cen­ter-con­sole equipped with fish­ing rods, snor­kel­ing gear and a pair of wa­ter skis. Ya didn’t need train­ing to have fun.” ¶ John rejected the lure of a mod­ern com­mand. “I’ll stick with the wife’s to-do list and my Bac­ardi and Coke, Coyle. You don’t need a yacht cap­tain. You need an amuse­ment park man­ager.”

My friend John, see­ing the slides and rock walls and more, said: “You don’t need a yacht cap­tain. You need an amuse­ment park man­ager.”

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