Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Pull this and we start moving

(Left) My brother’s yacht Takista at Royan. (Right) His son-in-law’s Dipper (police launch to the rear) moored at Holyhead

With cars much of the technology is disguised and/or simplified before it comes to the driver’s attention. With a yacht technology is overt.

Take a yacht’s head, for example. Takista’s was fiendish. One lever opened and closed access to the hellhole below; the other provided water so that a third lever could be waggled to provide a flushing action. I think I’ve got this right. After a while I didn’t have the courage to ask further and tended to arrange my bodily functions around visits to the marina.

We mustn’t talk about engines. My brother was highly superstitious about them. Not only were jokes not allowed, he even discouraged casual conversation on the subject. In any case the whole point of a yacht is to derive forward progress from the sails. The foresail is sort of semi-automated and is stowed away by allowing it to roll up round the forestay. The mainsail on Takista was hoisted by hauling on a rope to the side of the mast. On Dipper this task could be achieved by ropes taken to cleats for’ard of the cockpit – less dangerous if the sea was skittish. My brother seemed to regard this as effete.

The yacht’s equivalent of a handbrake is the anchor. Occupying the forward berth on Takista my sleeping head rested uneasily on the anchor chain. The radio was not tuned to BBC3 for Mahler but to channel 16 the universal open frequency on which information about disasters initially unfolds. Depth measurement systems have no parallel on a car.

I came too late to yachts and my enthusiasm has the zealotry of a recent convert. Inevitably I will return to this fascination.


marja-leena said...

I love being on the water in boats and ships, but strangely have never been in a sailboat or yacht though we've lived by the sea 35 years! I guess I don't have the right family and friends.

Julia said...

I love sailing too, and it is the perfect hobby for anyone who likes technology. Though actually, my definition of the ideal boat is one owned by a close friend/family member who is not me and who routinely needs a crew!

We also avoid mentioning engines, and do you whistle for the wind?