|I wake up all sweaty! - Phil Bolger's ROMP|
Reading back over what I've written, lo these many years, one might come to the conclusion that I'm an iconoclast; one who would take an axe to any vixenish vessel who dared sport varnish, brass and trim.
Oh, no... don't get me wrong! I love those curvaceous beauties, gleaming golden in every lissome line! The glint of brass and stalwart patina of bronze. Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!
If I had a magic wand, I'd conjure myself a Bolger ROMP. Well, perhaps a skosh longer and perhaps a sampan bow. But sweet and curvy would suit me just fine. She'd be cold-molded and dynel sheathed. Copper plated, from the boot-stripe down in strips hand-spiled and hammer fit by masters. She'd be tricked out with bronze hardware and copper running lights. Teak decks and resin plus gel-coat in lieu of paint. For easy maintenance, you know. A custom, welded stove would warm her, reminiscent of the old Shipmates, right down to the embossed anchors on the face. Well fit cushions, aloft and alow, each suited to its station. Soft, full spectrum LEDs would lighten our darkness.
Of course, there'd still be junk rig and no engine. But that's just me.
Fact is, I don't have a magic wand. To build a boat like that is quite possible. But given our situation, the amount of sailing time we would have to give over to the project has been more than we choose to pay.
I think of our box barges as the Least Common Denominator in boats. They are, quite literally, the least possible effort you can expend and still have a capable cruiser. KISS, even by barge standards. By almost any performance criterion, it's uphill from there. They are the lowest of the low. The bottom of the barrel.
But that's kind of empowering, don't you think? Look at how well they do... look at all the fun you can have on one! Their virtue is that their bang-for-the-buck ratio is through the roof. If any dreamboat is in reach, it's this kind, and it just gets better. And they do have sort of work-a-day good looks to them... don't they? Anyone?
Folks interested in these mostly don't already have a boat of their own, much less a yacht. They may not have boatwright skills or their financial ducks in a row or a decent place to build. They may never have built, may never have found what they're looking for at a price they could reasonably pay, may never have imagined that they could one day launch a vessel built with their very own hands.
I consider it a matter of CAN, not SHOULD (never been real big on 'should'). If we can do it, pretty near anyone can. We've managed by choosing simple designs and inexpensive methods and materials. We've invested time that might have gone into earning the DO RE MI into happier hours of scrounging and improvisation. We've chosen the shortest path to the water (with general success). And that's where we prefer to be.
My advice - my example, at this stage of my life - is that you don't have to wait for your dream boat to start living your dream. If you haven't got the means, see if lowering your standards can get you going. If you do have the means, go in whatever style you please.
If you've got the wherewithal, other priorities, other ways of getting on the water, follow your heart! You've got my whole-hearted blessing, interest and full admiration. As if you needed it.
Heck, I'm even on speaking terms with a few friends who have nothing whatsoever to do with boats!