Go Now, or Forever Hold Your Peace

Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 01:07PM - Comments: (11)

Capt. Frank Lanier's Union 36 is itching to clear out of Chesapeake Bay.

By now, some who read this blog regularly may be wondering if Practical Sailor will be covering the America’s Cup. The answer is . . . sort of. I’m not going. The votes are in; the jury has spoken.  Practical Sailor readers have made a persuasive argument that they don’t see much value—apart from the gee-whiz factor—in expending our limited resources on an event that is already over-hyped. Let Larry Ellison play with his toys. (Yes, I’m a closet fan of the Kiwis.) The racing so far has been a flop. We’ve got real boats with real problems that need to be solved. And frankly, I’m so crushed with work these days that I can’t peel away from the desk . . . not now. We’ve got a few too many anchor tests in the air, and I just hope they all don’t land at once.

One of the most exciting bits news is that one of our main contributors, Capt. Frank Lanier, is a few quick heartbeats away from realizing his dream of setting off aboard his Union 36 for an extended cruise. Lanier, a retired Coast Guard officer who does a lot of our electronics testing, is also a marine surveyor. I don’t think there are many Union 36s as ship-shape as his.

He was supposed to set sail earlier this month, when he injured a bicep lifting something. The doctor recommended surgery or rest. He has opted for the latter and seems to be well on his way to good health.

Frank’s experience reminded me again how quickly time passes, and how suddenly health issues can creep up on us and interrupt our cruising dreams. How many well-equipped cruising boats do you see on the market with the comment that “health issues” forced them to change their plans?

This is hardly news to most PS readers. We hear the clock ticking. Just one more year until retirement. Just one more year until the boat is ready. Just one more year until the house is sold. Just one more year . . .

I sometimes wonder whether sailors, because of the nature of our addiction, have too strong an impulse to go with the flow. We are trained to wait for the right tide, to avoid the dead air on the back side of the squall, to play the eddies in the Stream. Confrontations are those we can’t avoid, like midnight squalls and hurricanes. I think it’s just as easy for us to get caught up in the flow of modern life—such as it is today—from university to work, to family, to retirement . . . only to wake up a few months from departure day with your arm in a sling. Or worse.

I’m not the first to say this, surely won’t be the last. Go now. Don’t wait any longer. Go now, while you can.

As for the Cup. We haven’t written it off altogether. My wife, Theresa, is going on her own dime. She’s always been more fascinated by spectacles than I, and being less jaded, she might well find something worthwhile to report on. “It’s something I want to see,” she said. “I may not get another chance.” Amen.

Comments (9)

The original deed of the America's Cup was to showcase a counry's nautical skills. Thus, the crew had to come from the sponsoring country and the boat had to be built with the host country's technology and equipment. The deed has been amended so many times that you can hire a crew from anywhere in the world and build the boat in any country. That's probably not going to change, but I think a true test of seamanship would be in identical hulls with round robin sailing. Then it would be tactics. In the latest Cup races, it would appear that the crews were evenly matched. What suddenly made Oracle faster after it was down 8-1? Cup history is replete with skullduggery, and Larry Ellison was already fined for cheating earlier in the summer. Draw your own conclusions.

Posted by: wcwinslow | October 23, 2013 11:24 AM    Report this comment

The race really is spectacular and the boats are impressive. It's a great effort to allow sailing races to be exciting and visible to the public. Having said that, I find Mr. Ellison's purpose of building interest in sailing to be somewhat disingenuous. A very tiny percentage of Team Oracle's budget could have funded youth sailing and high-school sailing teams throughout the Bay Area for years. And that would have gone much farther in reaching out. Had the stated purpose simply been "I want to make a grand spectacle," I would be less critical.

I wish both teams the best - Oracle clearly needs all the best wishes they can get (!) but I wish that this would have left a more lasting legacy in people than the fleeting grand spectacle of expensive toys that it is.

Posted by: Peter H | September 11, 2013 11:28 AM    Report this comment

If America's Cup racing has become like formula one racing, there are a great many people who would say that is a good thing.

Posted by: Unknown | September 7, 2013 6:44 PM    Report this comment

The America's Cup boats currently sailing in SF Bay, have about as much in common with real sailboats, as the car you drive does with a Formula One car. That is to say, almost nothing. I don't find them attractive, they are ill suited to racing in confined areas like SF Bay and I'll be surprised if there isn't another catastrophic accident before this joke of a race is over. And, not being satisfied with spending huge amounts of $, some participants feel the need to cheat, in order to try to win. Very sad.

Posted by: The Trout | September 4, 2013 11:20 PM    Report this comment


Hmmm...now that would be a cool name for a boat!

I also heard this comment from a broker in Seattle when I first got into sailing..

Posted by: Sam S | September 4, 2013 7:12 PM    Report this comment

in the past, much of the technology developed to the America's Cup drifted down to other racers and cruisers. I find it difficult to believe that little of what has been developed for the past two America's Cup will be relevant to the majority of sailors. I always wanted to attend an America's Cup held in the U.S., but I have no interest in this one, even though I have raced on the Bay many times.

Posted by: Camilo M | September 4, 2013 12:41 PM    Report this comment

Well said.One of the truisms in life is that looking back, we tend to regret those things we didn't do far more then those things we did, even if they didn't always turn out right. Perhaps we need to add one more heavy responsibility to the list (kids, mortgages, community) that keeps so many of us chained to the dock: the responsibility " to thine own self be true".

Posted by: chris w | September 4, 2013 10:44 AM    Report this comment

The America's Cup ceased to be a sailboat race some time ago. The best sailors don't win; they don't even show up. Instead, it's a rich boy's way to spend endlessly on their toys and egos. Good decision not to go!

Posted by: Lee P | September 4, 2013 10:41 AM    Report this comment

Go now, Go Now, has been hammered into me by a friend who missed his window when he developed arthritis in his neck... no looking up at sails.

We've arranged all our finances to get us to a (small) passive income and are working hard to make our date. Gratification delay has become part of all our lives and we're finding it hard to shuck it off, but we're smiling a lot as we work hard toward this.

Nice reminder of our mortal conditions.

Posted by: johnjuliano | September 4, 2013 10:27 AM    Report this comment

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