Rhumb Lines January 2012 Issue

Bold Predictions from Charlie the Tetra

There you go. You’ve wasted another perfectly good year reading Practical Sailor—to borrow a phrase from the Tappet brothers. If 2012 promises to be anything like 2011, buckle-up.

Highlights from 2011 here at Practical Sailor included the long-awaited debut of the new website, with 13 years of archives now open to subscribers. And then there were the downers: Scrap metal scavengers ran (limped?) off with the 600-pound keel for Jelly, the Catalina 22 that is the focus of our excruciatingly slow-moving boat restoration project. Then, the over-enthusiastic workers hired to clean up our workshop property mistook our elegant wood-coatings test rack for scrap. Straight into the dumpster. So it’s back to square one on wood coatings, and dear Jelly is now a boat in search of a keel.

So what can we expect for 2012? For this, I turned to Charlie the fortune-telling fish raised by my youngest son Jake, age 7. Jake assured me that Charlie the tetra can see the future just fine—as long as he has his “googles” on. So here’s the word:

To attack the nation’s deficit without upsetting any wealthy donors, Congress will reintroduce the boat luxury tax. It will apply only to older boats less than 30 feet, and trailer-sailors will pay double for daring to enjoy champagne cruising on a beer budget. Yachts over 100 feet will get a generous tax credit.

Closer to home, Florida will finally attack the “liveaboard problem” head-on by designating one square mile in the middle of Lake Okeechobee for visiting sailors. All other state waters will be off limits for anchoring. The lake will quickly fill with Cayman-island registered megayachts, whose owner are hoping to stretch those tax-credit dollars in the bargain mooring field, which will be subsidized under the U.S. Farm Bill.

The EPA will designate the entire Atlantic Ocean as a strictly enforced no-discharge zone. Cruising sailors taking the offshore route to Bermuda and south to the Caribbean will be asked to “hold it in.” Halliburton will get the contract to build floating rest stops; British Petroleum will be in charge of the plumbing.

Faced with the unassailable argument from budget hawks that “weather happens,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be eliminated. Weather forecasters around the country will suddenly find themselves searching for their long-lost barometers. Digitographic mariners around the world will lift their eyes from their multifunction displays to discover white fluffy shapes in the sky.

In racing news, the America’s Cup committee will, against its better judgment, allow a late entry from the United Autoworker’s Union in the summer race series in Newport, R.I. The highly skilled workers will design a fantastical entry resembling Howl’s Moving Castle in the Miyazaki film—all gears and levers, tin, and bronze. Steampunk lovers will rejoice as the boat, featuring vertical rotating sails and a swimming keel, literally crushes the carbon-fiber fleet in its steel claws. Newport’s mansion row will rattle with the sound of the Lions fight-song “Hail the Gridiron Heroes.”

Super-racer Ken Read’s good-guy reputation will be tarnished forever when it is discovered that, instead of sailing, he and his crew were actually playing the computer video-game “Minecraft” during most of the Volvo Around the World Race. An inquiry will later find that Mar Mostro, along with the rest of the fleet, was actually being controlled by a 12-year-old tech-whiz with an iPad in Topeka, Kan.

California will ban sailing, based on a study that shows that the presence of boat hulls “scares the little fishies.”

Finally, Practical Sailor will decide to take a year off from bottom paint testing, worrying that the fumes may be harmful for its editor, who was having long, rambling conversations with his son’s fish tank.

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