A Fistfull of Euros
Now that the world has gone topsy-turvy, arse-over-elbow and to-hell-in-a-handbag . . . it has suddenly become possible to think of America as a country, like any other. Not a far-away, never-never-land, too wealthy by far and unattainable by 'the-likes-of-us'. Just another country on the map. To plunder. To pillage. So - back to the good old days of the Vikings when a bison-burger could be had for nothing, and a helmet-full of coffee was yours for the asking. Now is our revenge for all those 1920's Yanks-in-Gay-Paree, scooping up our art and our women with a handful of change from their remittances. Hemingway - we're after your boats.
In particular,we are after your big comfortable cruisers. We've got the Euros now, Old Man. And if it wasn't for your infuriating addiction to 110 volts, plus the Schengen Tax - there wouldn't be a decent boat left in American waters - we'd have them all back here.
Because we just don't seem to make them the way you do. Not in the variety : the configurations of keel and rig and deck and layout. The cabins and pullmans, showers and galleys, stowage and davitts. Oh! and the air-conditioning. I don't care if I don't need it off Galway Bay - I want it. And I have the Euros. You gave us sub-prime-onomics. Now eat boatonomics.
Your boats run the full gamut: from Allieds to Sabres, with Cals and Pearsons, Island Packets and C & Cs in between. Some blue-blooded Brit will jump in here and reel off a list of our finest boats - but I defy him to come up with a list as rich and diverse. [I'm English, I can handle him]
And the reason for our paucity of design lies in language.
You have an enormous country and coastline - but you also have the ICW, your one and only canal network. It links the north to the south. But whether north or south - you all speak the same language. It may not be English and it may be uncouth - but you all speak it. Thus you may think you have your local sailing-grounds - your Chesapeakes, your Cays - but in fact you all share one vast language-ground. Your boat, its needs, your needs can all be expressed in one parlance. That enables you to move freely over huge distances, through major climate differences, demanding great flexibility in your boats. Thus greater willingness to get into a boat. Thus great designs for all these people.
We in Europe - you may have noticed this over the last century or so - have had our little differences. It means we have much smaller cruising-grounds in common. Thus our boats are more ground-specific : regionally-adapted, and not at ease in a variety of contexts or climates.
Certainly we were well able to produce those old slim fast globe-runners - but not the boat that was well-thought-out for the retired couple wanting to cruise some blue water. And where is our blue water? In another country, with a language we'd rather not speak. We'd sooner put up with no headroom and a cramped North Sea cockpit.
Until the French came along - still smarting from Agincourt and Waterloo - and beat us all at boat-design. They simply made a boat for the Med. No tide, light summer winds, big kitchen and lots of cabins.
And that's where we're at, at the moment: hair-shirt old Brit boats [a slop of North Sea in your porridge will make a man of you, m'boy!] or a Viking ship with no windows, or a French dining-room with swim-ladders.
That's why I'm coming over with a Fistfull Of Euros. Lock up your daughters, and your fine cruisers.