by Jeff Gilbert

The Desire for Boats

I have found the nature of desire to be illusory. Once we possess an object, the desire for it is largely dissipated. And the problem magnifies with size, the “bigger” and “better” the object, the more quickly the desire for it flames out. The “beautiful” people” are the swiftest to divorce, and fast cars sell at a low mileage. But the problem is never more obvious than in the world of big yachts, where a baffling array of near new monsters up for sale makes one wonder could most of the designers have gotten it all wrong? No they haven’t, the owners have. They reach heights of addicitive spending that continue into chasing sponsorship if the money tap is turned off, and end with a yacht that requires the Owner to be Laird of a small village of Sailors in order to get out for a day. A day inevitably spoiled by the realisation that the boat is almost, but not quite, what’s needed.

Can this problem be beaten? Yes it can simply by recognising it and doing the following. Build a boat with your own hands, a boat based on character not ego, and build it of wood which smells nice when cut and planed, and allows you to enjoy the process. Do this with half your available money because there must be more to life than just boating. Never build with others money, and build a boat you could and would sail alone. Build it as small as you can, it need only hold as many folk you regularly see when you look up from building. These are the ONLY people who care less about your boat and there won’t be all that many of them. If you are building to impress someone, stop now, if they are capable of being truly impressed by your boat they would be helping occasionally, and would grow to love the boat rather than being impressed by it. Don’t build a boat that takes too long if you really want to sail it, rather than desire it as an adornment.

If all this is true why do designers design at all? Perhaps this designer designs in the rather unfashionable plywood, because it creates sound and useful boats for a price that is the cheapest way for people to get over them! But mostly, he just likes wooden things that float, and thinks the ability to build and move them about efficiently a skill well worth maintaining.

All the best for 2004
Jeff Gilbert