The archaic meaning of the word ‘mistress’ is a woman loved and courted by a man. Now many a boat has been named ‘Mistress’ and you can see why. Men may court and love their boats more than they do their real-life mistresses or their wives after the courting and the sound of wedding bells have ceased.
Back in the early nineteen-fifties Edward Allcard sailed his 34 ft wooden yacht, “Temptress” from New York to Plymouth, via Casablanca and Vigo, and if my memory serves me correctly, a beautiful stowaway revealed herself some days after his departure from New York. The tale of a hidden maiden aboard a yacht that was no more than 34 ft in length leads one to believe Edward was not entirely honest with his account. From memory, the story in English newspapers majored on the theme of a mistress who had no passport, no money, and was desperate to gain entrance to the UK. By her feminine charms Edward was bowled over, despite his superficial protestations, and instead of taking her back to New York, he willingly accepted her as a crew member.
Little of this may be accurate, but the theme of a link between mistresses and boats is certain. I for one know of the charms of the many boats I have owned, mostly small, and hence beautiful - if the saying, ‘Small is beautiful’ is true. My latest mistress is ‘Faith’; she’s a 14 micro-sailboat being built in my garage. Some would not describe her as being beautiful, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to me she’s very beautiful and worthy of my adoration. I sense there is a major difference between ‘Faith’ and all my previous mistresses for I’m convinced she will be with me until my dying days. She has all I require of a sea maiden: cheap to keep, not too demanding and she knows how to handle stormy waters; when there’s a calm sea she’s patient and contented. She’ll look after and care for me until my need is no more.