Sometimes, even my own id confounds

April 2004

By Dodge Morgan

There are some current (meaning “present” and not “water flow”) boating-related dilemmas that should be noted. They come to me and I puzzle over them at inadvertent, odd times in my daily life, when watching the tumbling numbers on a gas-pump display, when celebrating the sight of a small pool of clear water in the frozen winter waste surrounding my solitary island home, when waiting for the green light after a coin toss at a toll station basket, or exactly 20 minutes after a satisfying sexual experience. You get the drift (meaning “meaning” and not “motion caused by a current”). These weird insights are random and hopelessly meaningless hip-shots squeezed off by my sub-conscious, my id, over which I have absolutely no control. Let me try to confuse you with some of them just as they all confuse me.

•If one were to catalogue the IQs of a boating columnist and all of his readers, the columnist would definitely lower the average of the group. A reader recently corrected my statement that the Beetle Cat is a Ray Hunt design. His correction, however, probably has done me no good since I already forget who the real designer is. A columnist should, therefore, stick to judgments and avoid play in the land of facts altogether. This publication’s Tom Snyder is the classic example of a no-risk columnist as even when he does deliver a “fact” we all know he’s just kidding.

•The cell phone explosion is to sailing what the porn outburst is to erotic arousement (and what kind of metaphor is that?) – interruptive, annoying and loaded with causes for non-relevant and unrealistic expectations. Just the sight of someone on deck with a silver handset on his cheek pisses me off.

•The majority of new boat designs I see indicate a clear victory of engineering over art. The technical revolution seems to have overwhelmed the poetry of boat design. Boats are all looking the same and it is not an aesthetically pleasing sameness either. Line drawings of the boats have a CAD look about them, as if no one ever picked up a pencil in the creative process. I realize that there must be a CAD system that could produce a Picasso, but no one does it. In contrast, a drawing by Herreshoff, Peterson, Williams, Alden and others in that golden age of boat designers simply begs to be framed on your wall.

•Boatyard bills often list more charges for mechanical and electronic work than for work by carpenters, sailmakers and riggers. I spend more time on my sloop Wings of Time changing light bulbs than I do whipping lines. (This is not the case with my 78-year-old schooner, Eagle, which has three-quarters of a mile of running rigging and two bulbs.)

Conversations over drinks in the main salons of cruising sailboats nowadays are more often about dieting, healthy food recommendations and real estate prices than about the subject of sailing. That is a bit like discussing billiards with a marriage counselor (I may be wrong there, since never having such a visit in spite of probably needing one), or talking weaponry while strolling a flower garden.

The most recent boating-related dilemma that squirted out of my id had to do with presidential politics. I think we should require all candidates to qualify by taking a solo sail passage of at least 500 nautical miles. The only entertainment allowed would be a video player stacked with Marx Brothers movies. If that is asking too much, the prospective candidate could take a baby doll, blow-up type, to kiss once a day.