From the Boatshop
by Ron Magen

"Weekend Pirates"
{with apologies to Herb Payson}

A few months before Herb Payson’s new book was published it got a bit of ‘press’ in the columns of one of the sailing magazines.

It excerpted Herb’s reasoning for why he and Nancy were still cruising 24 years after, ‘giving up the land’. 

It was a great read. Full of good and solid reason, for Herb, and Nancy, and lots of others too, apparently. “ . . . as there are too many of us out here already. The waters are crowded, and all the neat, secret places are being filled up.” He does take a nice jab at the “monied folk” with the custom 45 footers who think they are buying their ticket to the tropical paradise.

However I thought most about his opening comments.

“I’ve come to believe that it takes more courage of a certain kind to stay in suburbia and do the expected thing than it does to sell out and sail off.” “. . . I realized that my talent was modest . . . if I didn’t change I would, for the rest of my life, do my best, pay my debts, and finally die the mediocre middleclassman that I really was.”

Thank you, Mr. Payson. Never mind the rest of your book; in this one tight paragraph you have encapsulated what a great many people, around the world, are striving for. And you have absolutely described me. Even more so when you went on and mentioned the daily anxiety, fears, guilt’s, and palm-sweats. 

Many of us (most of us ?), for reasons of that ‘special courage’ or maybe for other reasons of certain necessity, cannot “sell up and sail out”; at least not on a permanent basis. Instead of ‘weekend warriors’ we could be thought of as “weekend pirates”. 

Of course some people are going to dream of following in the Payson’s wake; traveling off to those exotic anchorages . . . someday. Others realize they will never be able to actually do it and live it vicariously through Herb’s writing. You could say I plot the ‘achievable course’. 

I am certain I’ll never be able to do what Herb and Nancy have done. I don’t really get excited about reading ‘travelogs’ no matter how well done. Dream about it . . . YES !! Do SOME of it . . . YES!!

A 19-foot, 1250 pound, hard-chined West Wight Potter is not exactly what one would call “a blue water voyager”. However, a cabin to get out of the sun, a couple of places to sit or lie down, a head if required, a 6 Hp ‘kicker’, main-jib-110 & ‘genny’, deck layout arranged for efficient ‘no yelling, make Joanne not nervous‘ work, a small cooler for a reefer and our part of the Delaware River becomes a passage to Tenerife. 

I often feel guilty about not using ‘our’ boat more; actually not more than a half-dozen times during July and August . . . too hot and almost no wind. Yet I NEVER see 90% of the bigger, more expensive “CRUISING SAILBOAT”’s do anything but grow things on their rudders and waterlines.