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Volume 16, Issue 45 - November 6 - November 12, 2008
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Your Boat Is Your Yacht

As long as it gets you to the water, I don’t care what it looks like

If frequent boating hours were awarded, I’d have sufficient bonus miles to play Magellan seven times over in his trips around the globe.

In my long lifetime of fishing, a boat has been necessary to get where the best bass, rockfish, blues, sea trout, marlin, tuna and so many other delightful fish swim waiting to be caught.

Party on a boat? Not me. The bell-like sounds of ice cubes ringing in a glass aren’t my cup of tea. Whether cruising or at the docks, within minutes I become edgy.

Dropping a baited hook in the water — isn’t that what boats are for? To me, a boat is a means to go fishing. Period.

Boats are an integral part of my work. Unless you deal in or work on boats for profit, as I do, the main reason to have a boat is the fun you can have aboard that hole in the water in which the owner pours money.

After all, if we are to expect the citizenry to appreciate our waters enough to try to keep them clean, they must enjoy the bounty of those waters — whether it’s via a line to a tube or a line to a fish.

It matters not what the boat of choice might be. It matters not whether you can afford only something that floats or a mini-cruise ship. It matters not to me what your idea of fun might be — so long as you get out on the water, appreciate it and understand the need for clean waters — and have fun while you’re doing it. Fun: That’s what boating should be all about.

Too Hoity-Toity for Houseboats?

I have warm feelings for boats and for those who own them.

So I was concerned the other day when I read in the daily press of the strong suggestion that in Annapolis waters — the supposed hub of boating activity almost anywhere — there exists this prejudice against houseboats. From what I read, it seems we’re on the verge of matching a coastal China port with all its junks side by side far enough that you could traverse a mile without feet touching dry land or dock plank.

A houseboat is a boat with pretty much of a house atop its hull. It’s made for people who want to live aboard with most of the amenities of life on land — and that’s a choice in life. Others might have different ideas of what a boat should be. So let them decide for themselves — but not for others. On average, a houseboat lacks the sleekness and speed of a spiffy yacht. Its hull is often near flat and it might look like a big box on a raft. But it’s the boat its owner chose.

The snobbish with their luxurious cruisers and windjammers, it appears, think houseboats don’t fit into the picturesque yachting scene and detract from its aura. Apparently they also think that houseboats can be too big and hog the scenery. They might like other big boats just fine, but not a big houseboat.

How hoity-toity can you get?

We’re not talking about Saddam Hussein’s yacht, reportedly up for sale, with room for swimming pools, salons, secret passageways and a rocket launching system in its 269 feet. The object of the current controversy is houseboats in the 42- to 55-foot range.

As each of our homes is our castle, each of our boats is our yacht — our means of being on the water. Who are we to judge castles and homes? Ambience is for the owner, not the viewer — despite what might be the thinking at Annapolis or Newport.

Where Would We Be?

Where would Huckleberry Finn and runaway slave Jim be without their raft that served as a houseboat with overboard disposal on the Mississippi? What about George Washington and his surprise Christmas day raid on the Hessians at Trenton in the Revolution? What if he had been told at dockside that his invading armada of anything that floated didn’t conform to the standards of the fleet: Invade from Long Island.

Let’s be realistic. Many of us have enough standards and covenants to live up to in our homes. So aren’t we stretching things a bit far when we expand to our waters — which, unlike house locations, belong to everyone. Enough said.


© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.