Saturday, October 10, 2009


We have all done stupid and silly things wittingly or unwittingly, but our intentional foolish acts are truly stupid, nonsensical and utterly absurd. Such conscious actions are beyond reason and comprehension. We cannot justifiably reason why we do them and we cannot understand why we do them, and yet we deliberately do foolish things. Is it because we have somewhere deep in our subconscious nature, an innate perversity that emerges when particular situations arise, such as when we are under pressure, stressed or in the public gaze? These are the very times when we need to keep cool heads and remain rational, but we unthinkingly act foolishly.

I know of a man who has built a very small sailing boat with the original intention of racing her around the world in the Around in Ten Race, which, alas is no more, but could be resurrected. This sensible and apparently rational man designed his 10 foot sharpie-type boat without any rocker – that’s fore and aft curvature of the bottom – and she has a very pointed bow with little buoyancy. In my opinion, for a seagoing vessel this combination is a recipe for disaster. The boat is slab-sided with considerable top-hamper because of her raised cabin, and her draft is minimal, a matter of inches. I note that some sort of shallow keel has been attached to the underside, presumably to provide lateral resistance and directional stability. Although the Around in Ten Race didn’t materialize because none of the entrants turned up at the start line, this man still wants to cross the Atlantic from East to West.

As far as I can ascertain, he has never tried his boat on a lake or on the sea; therefore he doesn’t know for certain if she will float to her designed waterline, or if she will even sail, but he plans to transport her overland hundreds of miles to a port of departure for the Atlantic crossing. Commonsense would surely lead him to try the boat close to home, before committing himself to the expensive overland journey. To the rational observer this commitment and proposed course of action lacks wisdom to the point of folly where the chance of mishap could be great, even to the extent of the loss of his life. If he sets off and persists with his mission without fully testing his boat he may eventually regret his actions and realise the folly of his ways, but if he succeeds, people will say luck was with him and his bravery was vindicated.

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