A reflection on yacht names and lifelong aims.
By Dudley Dawson
The yachts at most boat shows are moored stern-to, which promotes casual name spotting as you wander the docks. At a recent Palm Beach show, I noted three adjacent craft that read, in order, Fun, Second Thoughts and Recovery. How sad, I thought, the progression from enjoyment to regret to needing therapy. It was, of course, a chance arrangement that indicated no such thing, but it got me thinking about boat names and what lies behind them.
They seem to fall into three broad categories, each reflecting the souls of the owners. The gold-chain crowd favors double entendre, if not blatant references of a sexual nature. Fishing boats christened Hooker or something similar usually display ornamental passenger complements to suit. Speed and noise seem to be priorities, in public as well as in private.
In the second category are their polar opposites, those hardworking souls trying to escape weekday chaos, seeking peace and quiet and solitude for their treasured two-day or two-week respite. They may well be in the majority, judging from the Top 10 Boat Names list issued by the Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS) each year. For the past two years, Serenity has taken the number one spot. As BoatUS spokesman Scott Croft observes, “Calm, peaceful and untroubled is what boating is all about for so many boaters.”
That may be, but there’s a third category: those who see a boat as a path to adventure. That group is clearly gaining ground, with Andiamo (Italian for “Let’s go!”) having moved from number six to number three in the past year, and Seas the Day, number 10 last year, now threatening Serenity at number two. The growth in this category, I propose, comes from an unexpected demographic. Baby boomers, at least those who survived Woodstock and Vietnam, once believed they’d live forever but now know better. I fall into that group, having recently received official written notification from the federal government that I am old. (They call it achieving “full retirement age.”)
There’s a great YouTube video, “The Time You Have, in Jelly Beans,” that uses Ronald Reagan’s favorite treat to demonstrate visually what folks do with the 28,835 days in an average American life. That’s all well and good, but I hope you’ll join me, regardless of your age, in focusing on a far more important metric: Quality Time Remaining. QTR has nothing to do with actuarial tables that tell us how many more years, on average, we can expect to live. Rather, QTR is a more ephemeral measure of how long we will retain both enthusiasm for adventure and the health and mobility to enjoy it to the fullest. There is no reliable way to quantify or even estimate that time, but what is sure is that the sooner you start, the more likely you’ll have a chance to enjoy that one last hurrah, instead of living with the regret of having waited too long.
Many in the yachting community have embraced the concept, including well-known yachtsman Wayne Huizenga, whose son Wayne, Jr., heads up the Rybovich Superyacht Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. The elder Huizenga reached his epiphany, appropriately enough, while a guest aboard a friend’s yacht. My colleague Bill Sisson, then editor of our sister publication Soundings, wrote about playing hooky one Friday last fall, citing QTR as his excuse for an unscheduled afternoon on the water.
Me? Well, if you see a lovely launch cruising by with QTR emblazoned across her transom and a relaxed couple aboard, hail us. We’ll gladly take some of our remaining time to stop and say hello.