The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 10, 1999


Carlisle Comments: My Grandmother the Boat

This may sound like a strange way to get an idea for an article, but who knows where we really get our ideas. I was at the funeral of a 98-year-old woman from our church, and one of her grandsons got up to give a tribute to her saying, "We only knew Nana in the second half of her life." My thought was, "That's just like a used boat!" My kids may think I'm strange, but the more I thought about it, the more similarities I found. See if you agree with me, and maybe you can add a few comparisons of your own.

A used boat is like a grandparent. Like my friend's Nana, we really only know it in the second half of its life. Our grandparents' early life and experiences are unknown to us. We don't know about their childhood, lifestyles, parents and siblings. Similarly, what do we know of our boat's original plans, construction site, first owners, boatyard, builder or early cruising grounds?

Think of the changes our grandparents have seen. My grandparents were born in the horse-and- buggy days. They saw the invention of the automobile, electricity, airplanes, mini-skirts, and space travel. Our old boat is made of wood, has a gasoline engine and vertically cut sails. Other old boats originally only had a compass, a lead line and maybe a RDF (Radio Directional Finder). Compare that to diesel engines, fiberglass hulls, loran, radar, GPS (Global Positioning System) and solar panels.

We didn't know our grandparents in the early part of their middle agemarriage, children, career, first homes and early friends and companions. What do we know about a used boat's first families, early cruises, first breakdowns, renovations and upgrades?

You are what you were. The past makes you what you are today.

Some boats always did sail better to windward, or better on a starboard tack.

You can't choose your grandparents. Grandparents come from where they lived, how they met, or where they worked. Sometimes a boat chooses you. Circumstances in your life lead you to a certain boatits availability, cost, location or cruising plans.

You do have more than one grandparent, sometimes a favorite one. I think the same can be said for boats. Also boats can have several owners. Grandparents can have other grandchildren.

Sometimes Grandma has done some surprising things, but you have to study her genealogy to find out about it. Many times the more you learn about something or someone, the more they have to offer.

If you are willing to learn, you can learn a lot from the old boat or from Granddad. Have you ever said, "Grandpa was a neat old guy and I really miss him," or, "I never should have sold that boat; it was my favorite"?

You must take better care and fewer chances with an old boat. Old boats need more care, and often you wish someone had taken better care in the past. Same thing goes for grandmother. Sometimes you have to call in the professionals.

Sometimes boats live beyond their time. I really won't go into comparing things like loose screws and dry rot. Sometimes old boats leak.

Old boats like grandparents live on in our hearts forever.

[Ed. noteThe Blakes are the owners of "Tambourine," a 40-year-old Cat Boat.]

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito