a perfect boat…

We live in a society where people put great store in the idea of perfection especially where sailboats are concerned. I mean, who would not like to have the perfect boat?

So, what makes a boat perfect? Does anyone out there have a list of the required bits that makes a boat perfect?

My problem in trying to come up with a “perfection list” is that I can’t really come up with one that makes any sense. Which, considering I’ve been around boats for sixty or so years, some might find surprising. Then again, there seem to be lots of folks out there with near-zip experience with cruising sailboats that can wax eloquent at length about the need to own a perfect boat.

What I can do is come up with a very long list of things that would not be part of a perfect boat…

Take wheel steering for instance. I’ve always thought that wheel steering does not belong on boats that are 40 feet or less. A tiller just makes more sense as it’s less expensive, more precise, gives excellent feedback, and is far less prone to failure. Actually, there are a lot more negatives with wheel steering but you get the basic idea.

Maybe it’s just how my mind works that I don’t so much look for what’s good but look at what is problematic in a design and I always seem to be able to find issues or potential problems in every boat I’ve ever seen. This is not to say I have not been searching all my life for that perfect boat but have come to the conclusion that I’m a lot more likely to come across a family of unicorns than a perfect cruising sailboat.

Hell, I’m not being cynical but these days just finding a workable boat is something of a stretch and there’s not a boat out there that does not have some issue or other that needs sorting out. It’s not fixing stuff but removing all the crap that gets in the way of what a boat is supposed to be.

"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Airman's Odyssey 

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5 thoughts on “a perfect boat…”

  1. Simplicity. A boat that leaves you without any kind of dread feeling that multiple systems may crash that lead to the end of cruise. How did we get here? Boats have sailed for aeons without gizmos.

    A reliable hand start capable diesel engine changed my cruising for the better, allowed me to punch tides when the wind fell, and gave a means to run nav lights all night, not just when i saw a ship. I never went as far as radar, SSB, TV, freezers or even a fridge. A hand held GPS, compass, sextant and echo sounder and lots of ground tackle.

    Pride of ownership takes many forms, for some it is having a boat bristling with antenna and sat domes, for others stark simplicity. Beauty in the eye of the beholder. One of the ugliest boats i have owned was also one of the most competent at doing what it was supposed to do.

    There will always be those who choose a boat, car, home or wife, based on looks alone, and the people selling stuff know this, but without these people who upgrade their kit every year, some of us would miss out on certain bargains. If I cant fix it, or cant afford to have a spare onboard, I dont want it. Sailing itself can be stressy enough…….

  2. Excellent comment above. Agree with all of it. BUT – it’s still technology of the recent past. For a true dedicatee of simplicity , how far back do we go? No engine at all? No small sat nav? Sails. lead line, oars. Salt horse. Scurvy. Navigation Viking or Polynesian fashion.
    Don’t fancy any of those options? Where to stop? That is the question.

    1. I think that it really all boils down to what works for you. Personally, I’m loath to put something on the boat that I can’t fix or the loss of which will make sailing less than safe. In a world of inexpensive GPS and chart plotters, one would be stupid not to take advantage of the tech. Then again since I can’t fix them I carry a sextant and a real chart just in case.

      There’s no one way to do things but a little thought and application of the need/want/value test goes a long way to sort out what’s needed.

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