Once the pride and joy of her owner
Recently I’ve been writing about boats I have owned. Since the age of 13 I’ve owned different sailing boats, one on average every 2 ½ years – around 26 of them! They have varied in size from 11 ft to the largest at 30 ft. Therefore I feel qualified to have a few opinions about boat ownership. Indeed, this subject has been a theme of mine from as far back as 2005 when I wrote my first article.* Earlier this year I did another,** and I have written twice about the problems and dangers of owning too many possessions, including boats.
This time my focus is on the responsibilities of boat ownership.
Even before one acquires a boat, it would not be a bad idea to ask a few questions: Do I really need one? Could I satisfy my desires without one?
The moment we become an owner we assume full responsibilities for a boat's care. We accept the anticipated expenses of keeping and maintaining her.
For whatever reason a boat is acquired, an owner cannot deny his responsibilities. He may shirk them, but that does not exonerate him from his responsibilities. He is bound legally and morally to ensure his vessel does not endanger members of the public. For example, he would be unwise to allow his underage son to take a high-speed runabout unsupervised from a marina, but it happens. The owner of a trailer-sailer should check that his boat’s road trailer is fit for purpose, and that it complies with statutory regulations. Owners of boats should only allow those who know the rules of the road at sea*** to be at the helm, or at least have someone who does, keep an eye on him. In this day and age, it is unwise not to have adequate insurance for loss or damage to another boat or structure, and for loss of life or limb.
On a different tack, for those who love boats, they see them as objects worthy of preservation; they feel morally obliged to look after them. They are beneficial custodians. This has been my stance. It has always been my practise to maintain, and even improve boats while in my possession. I would otherwise not have been happy. Having followed this practice, I have sometimes sold boats at a loss, but I have felt contented, knowing that they were looked after.
One final observation, only a fool takes on more than he can manage. Owning too many boats and not having the financial or practical means of looking after them can only result in tragedy – a loss all-round. Loss, because the boats suffer, perhaps to the extent they cannot be restored, and loss because those who would dearly have looked after them have been denied the privilege. So often I see boats that were once the pride and joy of their owners, ending up as nothing more than rotting hulks, because of owners abdicating their responsibilities. On the other hand, there can be sadness because an owner has experienced illness or unexpected financial hardship and consequently he has not been able to maintain his boat.
***Rules of the Road at Sea: http://www.nswboating.com.au/Rules-of-the-road-at-sea.html
Posessions, including Boats