Charlie, in his role as a sailing instructor, was recently asked to do a power boat course on a motorized catamaran. Charlie has always treated motor boats with some disdain: Where’s the skill? Where’s the pleasure? Where’s the sense of achievement? Cruising sailors have the philosophy that the enjoyment is in the journey not just the destination. They are also aware of the impact of their cruise; the effect on the environment. ‘The wind calls the tune’, is the mantra, and the maxim, ‘a power boat can’t go around the world on one tank of gas’ is a truism rather deriding the power boater.
Charlie, though, is pragmatic; we all have to live in this world. His diplomatic side says that the power boater should be allowed to power to his destination while using up the world’s supply of fossil fuels and polluting the atmosphere in the process. If he wishes to slam into head seas while jarring every bone in his body, that’s his business. It’s just unfortunate for him and his crew that he has never learned the beauty of harnessing the wind, of reaching to a fresh breeze, of enjoying the constant trade winds with the quiet lap of the waves on the hull.
Power boaters often do not endear themselves to others when they roar past anchorages creating a wake to roll your boat from beam end to beam end. After you’ve scraped up your dinner – or mopped up your beer from the cabin sole – you sigh wearily and wonder why these megalomaniacs are in such a hurry to race somewhere so they can tie up and … do nothing. It’s a follow on from life in the fast lane. And the big shiny speeding boats with motors designed to deafen anyone within a mile—are the operators really sexually inadequate and have to make up for it by the size of their … bow thrusters?
I suppose the boating experience can be likened to life itself. Are we here for the journey or are we here for the destination? Well, I think there can be no doubt that the purpose of life is to make the best of the journey because no-one knows what the destination will be like. Even the most devout religious leaders preach that heaven will be the reward for a selfless and moral life. But when the Pope gets sick he doesn’t say, “Yippee, I’m going to die soon … heaven, here I come.” No, he rushes to a medical expert for medicines to prolong the ups and downs of life. You see, even he is a little apprehensive about the destination.
It was just a week ago that Charlie got into a conversation with guest Tom re: sail versus proverbial stink pot as he rolled his way to Anegada in the BVI on the above mentioned power cat. The short passage from Virgin Gorda is usually a delightful beam reach on a sailboat but on a small power cat it is a rolling, sea-sick inducing, crashing and banging nightmare, and that’s in a sea of only three-feet. That evening at happy hour Charlie had nearly managed to convince his guests that a sail boat vacation was the only way to go. Then they got into the dinghy and off they went. “Why don’t we have a sailing dinghy?” asked Tom with a smirk.
Instead of saying the destination has drinks and dinner and we need to get there fast, Charlie said, “You ought to run for Pope.”
Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.