The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














From The Boatshop
by Ron Magen


Before Christmas we received a ‘Holiday Catalog’ from Mystic Seaport. One of the items offered was a series of ‘note cards’ with photos from the 1950's - from the subject matter. Three of the photos intertwined with memories of my own childhood. They were candid shots of young children, ‘messin about in boats’. Relatively knowledgeable too, from their activities & equipment.

The Club has an annual award - for ‘Someone 40 or under who promotes sailing & sportsmanship, etc. . . .’ We received a reminder note from the Commodore for candidates, with the annotation that this ‘leaves out 90% of members’ . . . It reminded me of the club’s Christmas party, a few weeks ago. Seeing people in coats & ties - instead of sailing shorts & ‘T’ shirts or the ‘grubbies’ for waterfront & house maintenance. The typical comment was, “Don’t you clean up well ! “ There’s a certain point when the scruffy grey/white beard gets trimmed and the wind blown grey hair gets combed that a transformation takes place. There is a shift from the ‘Old Geezer’ to the ‘Senior Sailor’ [It is a ‘blue collar’ or ‘self help’ club, after all. I don’t think any of us are wealthy enough to call ourselves - ‘Yachtsman’ !! ]

During the past several months - from the Spring until now- a number of the guys who owned boats that had to be ‘blocked up’ at marina’s for dry storage started grumbling. It seemed that a number of them were told that their wooden boats would no longer be stored. As the season progressed, so did the rumors about the reasons. The ‘rejections’ continued as well - this time for ‘wet’ storage or slip rentals. Then it included the ‘plastic’ boats as well. At first it was supposedly because of the fire hazards of wooden boats. Then it was because they were rotted out, in generally poor condition, and more of an overall potential hazard. Then the same comments were heard about the fiberglass boats. Next it was a case of the marina owners worrying about the boats sinking in their slips. Comments were made that it was simply to force the sail boats out - because they didn’t spend money like the ‘stinkpot’ power boats. Fuel purchases being a much mentioned point. Bear in mind - the specific boats that were ‘dis-invited’, were in immaculate condition and very well maintained. By the time of the Party a number of facts had come to light. Rather then condition, an arbitrary age of 25 years had been selected as the ‘cut-off’. The supposed reasoning for the action was the marina ‘corporations’ were afraid of having someone ‘walk away’ from a boat . . . and the SALE value of the boat would be LESS than the slip fee or winter storage bill. This seems to be a load of Bull**** . Even for a small Club like us, the dues and mooring fees have to be paid BEFORE the mooring goes or the boat arrives. Most of us have dealt with a marina before . . . they ALWAYS want their money UP FRONT.

It was simply a case of Age Discrimination.

Now a couple of us have smaller boats - under 30 feet - that spend the winter on trailers {the ‘requirements’ to store a boat on Club property}. A number of them are on their third owner. Sometimes it’s the third owner . . . within the Club ! This is simply a reflection of the boats that must be ‘blocked’ for dry storage . . . even though they meet the length requirement. For ALL of these boats there is an investment - and it is NOT monetary ! There is a pride in ownership. Not only for the present owner, but because the past skippers see the boat - on the trailer or mooring - every time they come to the Club. At least with the ‘Old Salts’, or those of us that started out like the kids in the boats. It becomes ingrained in our character. So much so that it often shows up in other facets of our lives. “NO - I don’t need a new pair shoes . . . these ‘Topsiders’ are only 10 years old. But the brightwork could use another coat {the 15th or so} and Epifanes is on sale . . .” It may be a case of ‘transference’ . . . or something like the ‘Portrait of Dorian Grey’. The boat gets all the care & attention, while we take on the ‘other’ attributes.

Anyhow, - for about the same length of time Joanne has promised to treat me to a new hat . . . to replace the one with the ‘Woodenboat’ logo that I usually wear in the shop, etc. I have a lot of ball caps {actually we both do - sort of ‘collect’ them...

...and her usual refrain is, “You have enough hats - why do you need another one, you only have one head!”. So this offer seemed a bit odd. I took it off and looked at it. “What’s wrong with it?.” I said. “ There aren’t any holes, it’s nice & soft, it’s only a little sun-bleached, and the epoxy repair of the bill has held up for years.” Her retort was,“It’s sweat stained and ratty looking. It’s OLD. You wear it almost everywhere and it’s disreputable”.To which I replied, “NO - it has CHARACTER - like ME”.