Thinking of buying a boat as a status symbol? Or to improve your attractions to the opposite sex? Don't.


The idea of a yacht as a status symbol is a phony one. Will your boss be impressed because your boat is bigger, shinier or more expensive than his?

I doubt it. If he is a yachtsman, he may be envious, but that won't help your chances for promotion. And, if he is one he will know that boat ownership is not conducive to productivity at work. What with nagging the sail maker, the mechanic, the painter and the various shipwrights attempting to get the leaks fixed, bottom sanded, varnish shining, weather helm corrected and engine to stop smoking (cross out any that don't apply) you will be on the phone, emailing and surfing the web for things maritime far to much to get any actual work done.

To make the society page, your yacht will have to be bigger than both Larry Ellison's and Paul Allen's, themselves locked in a battle for biggest. In 2003 I heard Paul was in the lead with a dainty 126.18 Meters (414 ft.) pointy thing, Octopus. Then Larry's 452 foot (137 meter) Rising Sun outgunned him. Just today I ran across info on a 525' (160 m.) yacht under construction in Dubai, called Platinum.  Watch out fellows, that was at least 300 million US, maybe more. A very big hole in the water.

The other way to gain prestige in yachting is to win races. This calls for a sailing yacht. In Britain or France, successful offshore racers enjoy rock-star status. But in North America, you need to win the America's Cup just to make the sports page. Estimated cost, 150 million, and you need a talented crew. Good luck.

Own a boat for fun. Now the biggest yacht is definitely the least fun.  If you own a mega-poweryacht, you won't be allowed to steer the thing. That is the job of a licensed and highly paid skipper. It isn't fun for him either, it is just his job.

The biggest yacht I have sailed aboard was 120' long. They let me steer, but I didn't enjoy it much, other than the momentary thrill of piloting such a massive contraption.  For one thing, there was a considerable delay from the time you turned the wheel until the monster actually changed direction, leading to oversteer. Once you get used to it the secret is to switch on the autopilot.

The other extreme, a Laser, turns RIGHT NOW, and if you turn the wrong way in a puff will deposit you upside down in the drink. Now that is fun (In the Caribbean)!  Windsurfers have no rudder at all and are even more fun if you can get beyond the "stand up and fall down, repeat" stage.

With power boats the most fun is a PWC.  I suppose the gawd-awful racket they make and the idiot behavior of 50% or so of the riders goes with the territory.  The reason I hate them is one always appears in that quiet cove just as I have stopped messing with the anchor and started to relax in the cockpit with a cold one. Why do they run circles around anchored sailboats? Some guy in the US fired a shotgun at one. Too bad he missed.

Where was I.  Status symbols. The most effective way of showing what your status is, in my opinion by following this list, in decreasing order of effectiveness:
1. Actually accomplish something worthwhile, which makes the world a better place. Examples abound from Nelson Mandela to Billy Joel.
2. Don't accomplish a lot but make a big noise about it. Name everything after yourself. Donald Trump. Oprah.
3. Become a professional athlete. In Canada Hockey is first, but golf(6th) and curling(863rd) are gaining.  Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods.
4. Become unbelievably wealthy. No need to actually spend any of it in a useful way. Bill Gates, Oprah.
5. Become a TV evangelist. This could lead to #4.
6. Get on TV with Oprah.
7. Get famous for being famous. Paris Hilton, George Plimpton, many others.
8. Commit a major crime. OJ,  Bush Jr.
9. Buy a nice car. Note that if it is a Porsche or large SUV, the status you display is probably negative.
10. Take up begging on the street.
11. Buy a yacht (number 10 sometimes comes next).
12. Become a yacht designer.

If you have a girlfriend or wife already it will make her;
    a) seasick
    b) whiny "why is it so bouncy?'

Only in male fantasies does yachting make women amorous. Or men for that matter.

The exception is a laser or windsurfer, because she gets to stay home or go shopping. Or she can get her own laser or wind surfer and WHUP YER ASS. That's fun for her, which is the secret of fun for you later. Maybe.

Women can run bigger boats too, and many do. But the ones who can do it well themselves won't be impressed by your efforts. The ones who can't, won't care. The first time you yell at them to "whip that line around the cleat" when they have no idea what a cleat is and all they see is a rope, will jump ship. This applies to beginning male crew as well, so give lessons. Not everyone grew up with salt spray in the face like you did.

Reasons to buy or (better) build a boat:
You love the way she looks.
You have a good time just being with her.
You can put up with the expense, the wasted time and the breakdowns.

Hold it...wrong list. That is the list of reasons to get married. I lost the other one.