Another Great Comment

I hope Kevin doesn't feel that I am singling him out, but tonight he wrote a couple of comments that I really enjoyed reading and that I want to respond to in a way that blogger won't let me in the comment section. This comment was in response to my post, Is Beauty Endangered?
Kevin said...

I'm enjoying reading your blog, even though I don't believe for a second that you would "eat crow"! ;-)

I share your appreciation for lovely and sleek old wooden boats. The boats on your site are really, really beautiful.

But (and this is the key place we differ)...I think sailing itself is more beautiful than sailboats (a false choice, I know). It might be a subtle difference, but what I mean is that for many just getting on the water and sailing is a beautiful thing. If all they can afford is a old, butt-ugly MacGregor 26 then so be it. They're sailing!

For the most part, it's only because of the advent of the fiberglass boat that the middle class was able to start sailing at all. When I was a kid my career Coast Guard dad--no wealthy man--bought an old Sailstar Explorer, a humble little daysailer (self-bailing cockpit...horrors!). We fixed it up and sailed it for years.

That, my friend, was beautiful!

I lament the loss of classic lines in boats, too, and lemme tell ya, my '95 Catalina 320 is far from sleek. She's got a big, wide ass and standing headroom for me at 6'2". The only exterior wood are the hatch boards and cockpit table (God, you must hate those!).

But even though I drool over these classics, and over what I consider to be a modern classic--the Morris M42--I could afford that 13 year-old 320 when I bought her last year. My girlfriend enjoys it with me, and those creature comforts go a long way with that).

We're sailing! And it's a beautiful thing.

So there's no way I'll debate you on what makes a truly beautiful boat...because we agree. But I could never buy or keep up a boat like that, and even if I could few of those close to me are sailing purists. The lack of those beauty-killing comforts would mean I'd have a tougher time getting a crew.

So instead I've got a pedestrian Catalina 320. She ain't no beauty, but she's mine.

And that makes her gorgeous. :-)

I still love your site, though. There's always a place for a diehard romantic. Keep up the good work.

Kevin, I completely agree. No if, no and and no but's. I think you can find the joy of sailing on any sailboat. And the good times with family and friends could be had without ever casting off the dock lines.

Of course I do have strong feeling about this topic. First I don't think that this is an either or choice. Your don't necessarily have to choose between the beauty of sailing and a truly beautiful sailboat. There probably isn't that much difference in the cost of materials between an "butt-ugly MacGregor 26" and a Luders 16.

My point was that we as a sailing community have made a choice to buy comfort and convenience at the expense of beauty. In addition many people, I don't include you in this, want to rationalized that their compromises didn't trade-off beauty. So they argue that functionality is beauty. My post, and my offer to eat crow was to get people to actually vote one of these modern boats as future beautiful classics. When push comes to shove we all know that beauty is losing we just don't was to admit that our choices are reinforcing the trend.

I also think in the old days beauty was a value that other things were traded for. Here is Larry Pardey's first "cruising" boat. It is a 27 foot Tumlaren that he cruised all around Vancouver island.

Boats just like this were, and still are I hope, cruised all alround the Islands around Sweden. Can you even imagine the average US sailor cruising in a boat like this? We have changed how we live and what we "need" and lost beauty as a result.

If trying to fight for beauty makes me a die-hard romantic, I guess I am guilty as charged.

Again this passion could very easily come across as snobbish. But I don't really see my boat as being more beautiful than other. It is very easy to be humble when my goal and ideal for my Knockabout sloop was this.

Now that my friend is beautiful....