Sometimes the obvious is hard to see. Our editor examines how some seemingly elementary ideas have improved life on the water.
Solutions that seem simplest can be so damn brilliant that you wonder how we got along before they existed. For years, I used to straddle the twin oil-loving two-stroke outboards on my 25-footer, and then stretch to clamp on the motor-flush earmuffs. Then I’d attach the hose to the earmuffs and rinse the engines with fresh water. It was the best technology of the time. And it worked. But when I moved up to a 31-footer a few years later, and I could attach the dock hose directly to a fitting on the motors and flush, I felt liberated. Needing one less step seemed more effective. Recently, I stepped aboard a 34-footer with triple four-strokes, and the engine flush was a button at the helm that drew on the vessel’s freshwater tank. No more hose. Brilliant, I thought. Then I wondered, Why didn’t I think of that? ¶ Years ago, while running a 40-foot flybridge at about 28 knots, the hardtop’s two forward-facing overhead hatches were left open. My bad. The wind caught underneath the hatches, and I soon discovered the struts’ breaking strength: 28 knots. A few months back, I stepped aboard a 40-foot express cruiser whose hatches automatically dogged down via a button at the helm. No more broken struts. Again, I thought, Why didn’t I think of that? ¶ Because I am only 5 feet 7 inches tall, I get a lot of “Can you come down here?” from friends when they need help in the engine room. And while I’m not the tallest guy around, these spaces still occasionally require me to twist my body in ways that would make the Cirque du Soleil cast green with envy. Engine-room tasks are thus often followed by Tylenol and a heating pad. So, the first time I saw a cockpit quick connect to drain and refill the engine oil without climbing down into the engine room and contorting like a pretzel, my eyes got misty. Why didn’t I think of that? ¶ I have an armada of formerly white T-shirts that have fallen victim to the bouncing-boat, flying-coffee scenario. Last year, I was on board a 72-footer that had metal strips inserted into its tables and flat surfaces. The cups and glasses had magnets in their bases. When you placed a cup or glass down on the table, it stayed put. Why didn’t I think of that? ¶ Thank goodness that yacht designers and builders are listening to guys like me. I may never come up with one of these makelife-on-the-water-better ideas, but I’m sure glad there are talented minds that can.
I have an armada of formerly white T-shirts that have fallen victim to the bouncing-boat, flying-coffee scenario.