Sunday, March 06, 2005

Caring for Boats

Bill's Log

I have owned 18 boats over a period of 57 years - that’s not counting several yacht tenders, inflatable craft, and a few paddling canoes. Some I built from scratch, others from kits and one from a pre-moulded hull and deck. The remainder were second-hand professionally built boats, with one exception, a boat built by an amateur. On average I’ve changed boats every 4 years, although in more recent times they have passed through my hands every second or third season.

Of course, there have been months or years when I’ve not owned a boat, but that didn’t stop me sailing, because friends welcomed me aboard their yachts. Despite this when I’ve not owned a boat I’ve felt as though a part of me was missing. It was as if I had been a caring parent who had lost a child and all that had gone before – a cherished loving relationship, rich in costly sacrifices of time, effort and expenditure – a reciprocal bonding through mutual need. Is there a true parent who does not have a caring commitment to do the best for his child into maturity, even until death?

For me, boat ownership does have an aspect of loving care, but never a life-long commitment or a bonding as with a son or daughter. Unlike a child, a boat can not respond to one who cares, but I care all the same, not for the sake of the boat, but for me. Sacrifices of time, effort, and money are part and parcel of the caring process and by them I gain satisfaction. By renovating or maintaining boats I use my manual skills and gain much reward.

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