Starboard and Larboard

Starboard and Larboard

It’s so easy to get carried away with technology and to enhance your lifestyle with whizz bang gimmickry. We are all suckers for the latest gadgets that promise to revolutionise our hobby/lifestyle, or at least take a little bit of the drudgery and hard work out of things.  Yachts certainly fall into this category.  Which is a good reason for not going to boat shows.  Boat shows are definitely dangerous places for the unwary and you can get suckered into buying all sorts of stuff, whether you actually need them or not.  In most cases, you probably don’t need them.

You go to the boat show with a note book and a few ideas and end up with a skip load of brochures, or even worse, invoices! Loading up the boat with the latest electronics and the must-haves that we are told we need.  However, look at it this way.  What do we enjoy most about sailing and cruising – it’s actually sailing the boat, isn’t it.  Once the sails are up and are catching the wind with the boat moving through the water, we start to enjoy the magic of sailing.  Then we get to our destination, pick up the mooring ball or drop the anchor, and after a tidy up, it’s time to enjoy that gin and tonic in the cockpit watching the sun go down.  Enjoying a home cooked meal – either warmed up or cooked from scratch then it’s relaxing in the evening playing board games, or just chatting in a moonlit cockpit under a starry canopy, or the glow of a kerosene lamp in the saloon.  How can a spending spree at the boat show possibly improve on these magical moments?  The truth is that it can’t.  Magical moments are certainly not dependent on gadgets, technology, things or stuff.  Technology certainly can’t do anything for the less than magical moments such as washing dirty dishes, changing the oil, following a bit of wire through the boat trying to find where the electricity is leaking out, or trying find where the water is leaking in.  No matter how many stretch marks you put on your credit card, you won’t lessen the drudgery that is boat maintenance and cleaning.  We are conditioned into being good consumers – it’s part of the world we live in. Well maybe an ice maker will enhance that magical cockpit experience by speeding up your gin and tonic and getting you into the glow of the sunset sooner – and whilst you are relaxing you can remotely programme your favourite sunset musical selection to add that necessary enhancement to the evening while  you rest your gin and tonic on a special, purpose built cockpit table and cut up your cheese with a special marine grade cheese knife.  Stop!  It’s a boat, not a home theatre with massage chairs, aerated foot spas and mood lighting.  Didn’t we buy the boat to get away from everything, not take it with us?  Isn’t that why camping is so appealing, getting out in nature and enjoying a simpler way of doing things?  Ok, so a live-aboard boat isn’t supposed to be as primitive as camping, but it doesn’t have to be complex either.  A simpler existence means less expenses and less things to go wrong.  There are plenty of those on a boat as it is!

There seems to be two distinct species of boater out there living and cruising in their sailboats. On one end of the spectrum are those that go for simplicity, the marinarus simplisticus.  No complex systems or galley appliances for these people.  A cheaper outfit with less things to go wrong.  It usually involves a smaller boat which is invariably usually an older boat.  Their whole philosophy is to leave a smaller footprint

On the other side of the coin is marinarus complexicus.  All the stuff you have spent years collecting in your house must necessarily come with you when you go sailing.  How else are you going to survive out there?  Fridge, freezer, washing machine, popcorn maker, plasma TV etc etc  all totally essential items for life.  There is no possible way that you could ever contemplate doing without them.  The boat must be big enough to accommodate all these items and more. Goodness knows how some of these people even leave the shore in the first place.  The truth is that most don’t.  The live-aboard life, or the cruising life is not for them and they are condemned to the oversized MacMansions in those brick venereal wastelands called the suburbs.  A few may eventually become grey nomads and buy a Winnebago, but the vast majority won’t leave their couches and plasma screens.  However, a few do leave land and go back to the water.  Just like our distant ancestors who gave up the security of the ocean, evolved legs and walked ashore all those millions of years ago.

Both species enjoys the outdoors, scenic waterways and life afloat, but both have totally different philosophies about how it’s done.

The big problem of course, is that after decades of collecting “stuff”, what do you do with it when you move aboard. Three quarters of it is mass produced consumer items with built-in planned obsolescence.  That stuff won’t be a bother because by the time we are ready to move aboard  it will have reached the end of its short lifespan and be knackered.  It will go out on the footpath ready for collection by the rubbish collectors.  That leaves all those precious items, books, heirlooms, presents and stuff handed down from previous generations, such as Grandma’s vase and Dad’s war medals.  What do we do with this stuff?  Can’t throw it out and can’t take it with us.  Big conundrum .  A very big conundrum indeed.  It will take a while to work out.

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