Boat Hoarder 101

Serenity at the Anderson Lane Yacht Club, an apple orchard/boat storage facility. Photo by Bob Muggleston

I hate to admit this, especially since my wife has been saying it for years, but I think I’ve got a problem. The problem is that I have too many boats. While this may be true, I take comfort in knowing I’m not alone. Many of us suffer from this affliction. Peek into any online forum in which someone’s researching a boat for possible purchase, and there’s a good chance you’ll see this line: “Might as well add another one to the fleet!”

We make light of the impulse to collect, but I’ve often wondered (only momentarily, because it’s uncomfortable going there) whether some of us aren’t nautical versions of the Crazy Cat Lady. That, because we can’t stand the thought of so many amazing boats out there floating in the ether, many of them cheap or free, their futures uncertain, we’ve essentially become boat hoarders.

Recent correspondence with a regular Points East contributor, Scott Thurston, has got me dwelling in this dark place. It began innocently enough. I dropped Scott a line asking him about the boat featured in his article this month – a pretty-as-you-please Camper-Nicholson 32 – and he became momentarily confused. “Which boat are you referring to?” he replied. Right away I recognized a fellow boat hoarder. Further probing revealed the extent: Scott is the admiral of a small fleet, and the Camper-Nicholson isn’t even the crown jewel. That honor goes to an Acapulco 40 named Tuuli. Dictating the purchase of Tuuli were lessons learned in a class I’ll call “Boat Hoarder 101.”

Scott sent his Camper-Nicholson, Penny, out to have her topsides Awlgripped. The folks doing the work – friends of his, who were giving him a good deal – were understandably taking their sweet time. In Boat Hoarder 101 we learn that the void created by the absence of one boat has to be temporarily filled with something of equal or greater value. So Scott sought out Tuuli. Two years later, when Penny came back, her deck hardware was in a box. All she needs to be splashed is the re-installation of the hardware. That has yet to transpire. Scott has since admitted that, subconsciously, he hasn’t done the work because he likes Tuuli, the “temporary” boat, too much. Oh, and along the way, he’s restored a friend’s Whaler and picked up two project boats – a Bristol 19 and a fiberglass Beetle Cat (circa 1953) that was a planter in someone’s yard. He intends to send the Beetle Cat down the line, but can’t do so “in good conscience” until he’s fixed the blistered gelcoat.

Good conscience?

Or lessons learned in Boat Hoarder 101?

Between my brother-in-law, Art, and me, we have at least 12 boats. The fleet ranges in size from my 26’ Pearson Commander to a 9-foot Dyer Dhow sailing dinghy. Our most recent acquisition is a jon boat Art found on the side of the road. We store all the boats – with the exception of the Commander – in an apple orchard where Art lives. We’ve begun referring to the place as the Anderson Lane Yacht Club, after the street it’s located on. A friend of mine winter-stores his 25-footer at the ALYC. That Art knows, and is friendly with, his neighbors, is probably a good thing.

I have firsthand knowledge that Scott, Art and I aren’t alone. Last winter Roger Marshall, a respected Rhode Island yacht designer and marine author who’s written several articles for us, casually mentioned in a phone conversation that he and his two sons had at least 20 boats, all of them in their yard, and the majority of the fleet was what I’d call “big” boats (as opposed to my fleet, which primarily is made up of boats 16’ or less). Graduates of Boat Hoarder 101 are everywhere, and most of us proudly wear two hats – we’re both admiral of the fleet and captain of each individual boat.

Preparing to write this piece I Googled “boat hoarding” and “people with too many boats” and nothing came up. Zilch. This actually puts my mind at ease. It means I might not have a problem. Or, at least, not one formally recognized by the medical community. Recognized by my wife, for sure, but not by professionals. My own personal rationalization is that I’ve got the storage space, and the majority of the boats were cheap or free, and cost almost nothing to own. And messing about with them? It’s one of my greatest pleasures.

I’d gladly write more on this, but, as luck would have it, I’ve just been texted by a friend: He’s got an old Laser in his yard, and his wife is tired of looking at it. He wants to know if I’d be interested.

I told him I’d be right over.

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