Boating: The Good Old Days

I was listening to a presentation by Halsey Herreshoff at the ABBRA Newport Summer Social on August 3rd. Halsey is the President of Herreshoff Marine Museum and America’s Cup Hall of Fame. Halsey was a four-time America’s Cup winner and the grandson of legendary yacht designer Nathanael Herreshoff.

Halsey was reflecting on the economy and the boating lifestyle in general that he has personally watched evolve over the past 70 years. He believes, and I agree, that boating needs to become simple again. Boating has become too complex, we have far too many systems on-board and the amenities that we think we need on our boats mimic what we have in our homes.

Why do we need granite counter tops, audio/visual systems that rival home theaters, and a host of other electronic and mechanical systems that attempt to replicate the creature comforts found in our homes? What we wind up doing is spending more time maintaining these systems rather than enjoying our boats with our family. While the family sits at the dock, gear in hand ready to disembark, dad is below deck trying to figure out where the beeping noise is coming from.

Halsey argues that in the “good ole days” boating was more akin to camping . The systems were simpler, there were fewer things that required maintenance therefore fewer things could break down. Our technology is far superior than it was years ago which is a good thing. But this has lead many manufacturers to cram as much technology into a boat that they can fit.

Boats in general have become much larger, faster and more luxurious in the last five to ten years. If we re-focus our efforts on boating being an alternative to life on “terra firma”, which in essence is the true appeal of boating in the first place, maybe we can get more people interested in boating again.