Friday, May 29, 2009


Today’s topic is another debate on the eternal question, “Can one have too many small boats?” (At least it is not one of those Tillerman inspired lists, although I suppose I could set it up that way if I really wanted). When sailors give the obvious answer - “you can’t,” I think they are talking about having five or six. It’s easy to justify that many few. But with each additional boat, the rationale becomes sketchier, so maybe the question should be “Is there any straight faced justification I can offer for this boat that will offset the pains of maintenance and visual blight of off season storage.”

A year ago, I needed 10 justifications, but already this year it’s up to 13. Hello. My name is Yarg, and I’m boat collectaholic. I think there is an excellent reason for each and every one of them, but 13 does seem a bit excessive. This may be the wrong support group if I really want to quit, but I’ll trust you, my reader (should that be plural?), to tell me if I’ve gone too far.

Let’s start with the rowing craft- two kayaks and one rowing shell. Kayaks are for peaceful paddling with the Mrs. or for the Mrs. and her friends. The rowing shell provides a great way to exercise. All have been used already this year, and all store easily on a nice rack.

The two Sunfish are quite old and very heavy, but my wife will sail with me if we both go out in Sunfish. Boats that are good for a marriage are a must have. I couldn’t get much money for them anyway.

Five (or six, depending on how you count) Lasers might seem more than necessary, but I can explain. One is almost new and is my summer boat. Another doubles as my son’s summer boat and my winter boat. Winter sailing offers no way to rinse off salt water, so I can’t subject a new boat to that. The third is leftover from my buy, fix, and resell episode. It’s named “Loner” and is loaned to new Laser sailors and out of towners as a fleet building aid. The fourth is my “original” Laser and is being kept just in case I can get my wife to sail with my son and me. (She tried it once – this could work out.) The fifth is really just a hull that my son found washed up on the beach and no one has claimed for almost a year now. (Don’t ask me how someone can let their Laser float away on a small lake, and not go looking for it for a year.) But that hull is better than the “original” Laser hull, so I think I should keep it just in case. Or maybe its owner will come claim her. The sixth Laser belongs to my niece, so it shouldn’t really count. She’ll use it a few times this summer, so makes sense to keep it here near the water.

The 19’ Flying Scot is what I sailed for years before I met “original” Laser. It’s minimum legal weight and fast, so it would be a shame to part with it. I sail it a couple of times a year, and even finished third in a light air regatta a year and a half ago. I look at it as my retirement boat in case my knee gives out again or if I just get old, and it has potential as a father and son boat. And every now and then I really miss a spinnaker.

The latest acquisition is a small power boat that I used for coaching this spring. It’s great to have a coach boat set up the way you want it, and I confess that zipping around in a power boat is more fun than a sailor should admit. I suspect this one is going to be a challenge come winter. Sunfish, Lasers, and kayaks keep a nice low profile and can hide behind bushes, but for the power boat I guess I’m hoping that a big green tarp will be environmentally friendly, whereas a big blue tarp would be an eyesore.

I’m done collecting boats. No more. I have said that in the past, but I think I’m really through this time. Unless…. I stumble on a late model Sunfish rigged for racing. It would be fun to do some racing in the New England Sunfish fleet – nice people – terrific sailors.

I know many of you have a seldom used boat that you just can’t part with sitting around the yard. How do you justify it?


  1. I asked a similar question about our six small boats in my Tillerman list. My brother's answer in the comments was:
    1. Only six. What have you been doing all these years?
    That's what brothers are for :)

  2. It may be good that Pat and I are totally broke at the moment, because before that, whenever he saw a good deal on a Sunfish (defined as under $1000 with a trailer or under $500 without), he would buy it. (Our best purchase was probably getting two Sunfish, one of which was tuned for racing, plus a trailer that could hold them both, for $900.) The rationale was to build up a fleet of Sunfish that could be used for youth sailing, to get kids out on the water.

    Of course, at that price, a lot of those boats have been fixer-uppers, some with missing parts and some with worn-out parts that soon broke. Right now, we have fractions of eight Sunfish, about three or which are in sailing condition.

    And then we also have a very pretty but klutzy dinghy (it's really a rowboat, but there's a centerboard and sail that can be put on to make a sailboat), the world's rattiest Snark, a Laser 2, two kayaks, an ancient catamaran, a MacGregor, and an Etchells.

    Is 16 boats enough?

  3. Very impressive. I hope they all get used at least once a year so you will be inclined to keep them.

  4. The Laser 2 needs a boom but it doesn't count against us because it's our son's boat. The Snark needs to be glued back together. The catamaran is a fixer-upper that someone gave us last year. We sail a few of the Sunfish and lend them out to youth sailors, but the Achilles' heel of that program is that parts cost more than the boats! The MacGregor is actually for sale since mostly we use it for occasionally race committee duty or taking people cruising.