“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” is the only thing I have ever read by Scottish novelist Kenneth Grahame, but how profound. If you are reading this, perhaps you agree.
I recently inspected a 1960s era wooden power vessel being purchased by a young couple from a young couple. “Young”, by the way, is getting older every day. I find sharing experience and knowledge of boats deeply rewarding. Being allowed to assist in this particular transaction, interacting with these hopeful and energetic souls and experience their mutual joy was profoundly rewarding in a Kenneth Grahame way. I was filled with satisfaction and appreciation and smiled as I walked out of the wood boat yard, at the end of the row of boatyards, and carried my tools the short distance to my car.
Perhaps its maturity, but after 25 years of messing about in boats (as a marine surveyor), I love my job and am eternally grateful for opportunities like that one.
In the past few years I have been involved in two “refit projects” simultaneously. One is a San Diego built wooden 38’ sailboat and one is a Japanese built steel 45 meter motor vessel. The sailboat is being refit to be structurally sound and suitable as a live aboard, the motor vessel is being refit from a commercial boat to an expedition yacht. Hugely different projects but at their core they are the same.
The meetings with the owners concern things like the ability to accomplish passages safely, have accommodations that make the most of the available space, and toys that maximize the fun while aboard. I love brainstorming with the owners about their ideas, both conservative and wild, especially when we can make the wild ones come true. While the passages may be different, one to Catalina and one across the Pacific, the passion for adventure is the same. The accommodation considerations varied from a larger head with a real door to a choice between four or five guest cabins, they both involved give and take and some amount of marine prognostication. The tender choices ranged from either a rowing, sailing or combination dinghy for the sailboat to a choice between a diesel outdrive or a gasoline jet drive as the third tender for the expedition yacht; we all knew how much fun was going to be had on the little (relatively speaking) boats.
Working on boats, being on and in and near the water is a way of life and a calling. Perhaps some of us truly are “of water” and feel comforted by being close to and involved with it. Water is an essential element in many spiritual systems from Pagans to Native Americans to Taoism. It is said that water is the strongest element as it can flow around obstacles without changing its nature. And water seems to be one of the sources of harmony with boaters.
The completion of boating tasks, from choosing a boat’s name, to replacing a water pump impeller to larger varnish and paint project brings task completion satisfaction akin to home projects but with a bit more romance. The joy that accompanies the clanking of wine glasses after the brushes are clean or the mooring lines are set is somehow deepened by the sea.
Kells Christian is the principal marine surveyor of Christian & Company Marine Surveyors, Inc. Christian & Co. is a full service marine surveying firm specializing in yacht surveys, pre-purchase, condition and valuation, damage surveys, litigation support and consultation.