Tiny boats and huge yachts


As soon as you set foot on a big yacht you belong to someone, not to yourself, and you die of boredom.
-Coco Chanel


By David Roper
For Points East Magazine

Tiny boats and huge yachts. The allure is almost always there, despite the lack of practicality of each. Why is that? These two categories seem to draw the largest crowds in harbors, on docks and at boat shows.

So let’s follow this young couple as they head down the docks and see. There! That huge yacht has drawn quite a crowd. It must be because, well, because it’s HUGE and shiny. It can’t be for any other reason, the young couple think, since they can’t see inside it from so far down on the dock, can’t judge the quality of the building materials, the mechanicals or the power plant, and can’t see the electronic gizmos inside the pilothouse. They can’t drive it away to some luxurious harbor resort. They can’t afford to even dock it or maintain it. No, they stare because it’s BIG. And, besides, if they could own it, it would probably end up owning them.

So after a good long look, they continue their walk down the dock.


We are imprisoned in the realm of life, like a sailor on his tiny boat, on an infinite ocean.
-Anna Freud


There! Between those two big yachts. A tiny sailboat with a cabin. Now isn’t that cute! They gaze into the tiny cabin, which is empty of people. Oh, my! Look! There are two beds down there. And a miniature sink and one burner stove and little cabinet under it. Everything they need. And this is something they can afford. Let’s do it, they say to each other.

That next weekend they load up: two sea bags filled with clothes, bedding for two, plates, pots and pans, utensils, dry food, cooler, water bottles, wine, miscellaneous safety gear, toilet, toiletries, towels, flashlight, jackets and foul weather gear. Down in the cabin for 10 minutes, trying to stow everything by moving about on their knees, they feel a bit claustrophobic and their knees are sore, so they move to the cockpit and look back in. The cabin, they begin to realize, has just gotten much smaller, its 150 cubic feet of space filled with all their stuff. And they’re not even down there now. The bedroom in their small apartment has 950 cubic feet of space! And they can stand up in their bedroom. Well, they say, it’s all about being independent and out in the fresh sea air and sun.

And off they go. The sun is out and the sky is clear as they head out into the open sea. A slight chop starts to build, as they lay their course for a small cove in the lee of an island 10 miles distant. The little boat bucks in the chop, gear gets scattered around below, and the mate crawls down and tries to stem the disruption. But it’s no place to be for long, as the beginning stage of seasickness rears its ugly head. So the mate crawls back on deck, giving up on the stowage task; by now, most of the gear had settled into one big pile on the cabin sole. But they’re now only a couple miles from the island destination, so, though it’s tempting to turn back, they soldier on. Then a particularly large wave springs from seemingly out of nowhere, and the forward hatch, which was not dogged down properly, yields to the errant wave’s ugly advance, opening like a gaping mouth and swallowing the sea, which cascades below, flooding the pile of gear on the cabin sole.

And then it starts to rain. And thunder.

But they make it around the outer ledge and into the cove and drop the hook out of the wind. They begin to straighten up their tiny wet world, moving quickly to make space for themselves in the cabin as the rain and thunder eclipse the sunny day. Soon that same big yacht from the marina comes in and anchors, perhaps to escape the thunderstorm. They’re quite close by. Our couple hears the generator humming away. They can see the guests being served drinks and hor d’oeuvres in the dry warmth of the main salon.

“Well,” our new tiny boat captain says to the mate, “at least we’re not bored like those rich folks probably are on that giant yacht.”

“Yeah, and we made it. In our tiny boat. On our own,” the mate says.

“Yup. Who needs that world, anyway?”

They both nod smugly. Their small craft starts to roll heavily as the rising tide begins to let the ocean swell over the ledge that protects the cove. A torrent of rain pelts the cabin top.

“Cozy, huh?” the young captain says, a hesitancy in his voice.

“Yeah,” the mate replies, looking around the sodden cabin. She peers out the tiny porthole at the now well-lit main salon of the big yacht. “You don’t suppose they have any dry blankets on that big yacht?” she says.

“Not that we’d ever ask, of course.”

“Right. Not that we’d ever ask.”

Look for David Roper’s forthcoming book, “Beyond Mermaids . . . Life’s Tangles, Knots & Bends.” It’s a sequel to “Watching for Mermaids,” a three-times bestseller available on amazon.com.