Are two boats too many, or not nearly enough?

A man, apparently disgruntled with his marriage, once told me that bigamy is having one wife too many, and monogamy is the same thing. From the tired saying about the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life being the day he buys and the day he sells, some might suggest that boat ownership is not unlike marriage in that regard. Thankfully, though, it seems that most boat and yacht owners believe otherwise.

A recent survey by BoatUS revealed that among those on the organization’s rolls, the average member owns two boats, with an average length approaching 40 feet. Although I don’t have verified statistics, I have observed that the same holds true for most owners of larger yachts as well. One just isn’t enough.

Some turn to multiple ownership for convenience when there are several waterfront homes in the portfolio, ensuring an impromptu cruise is always possible. Others have several yachts and boats for differing activities: one for cruising, one for sailing, one for fishing, one for water sports.

Still others just can’t bear getting rid of the older yacht, the one with all the memories of the good times when the kids were growing up. I had one design client who sat next to me and cried as we discussed her plans to sell the family’s 64-footer now that she’d acquired a 90-foot motoryacht, even though the new yacht would have considerably more room for the expanding cadre of grandchildren. Another had just taken delivery of a 164-foot, custom-built European motoryacht for his retirement, but was spending all his spare time restoring his late father’s 90-foot Stephens cruiser, the boat that held all the good stories of his youth.

A happy overachiever, I have confessed before to owning nine boats—power and sail—at one point in time. I am currently down to just four, but my auburn-haired sweetheart is shopping for another, so there is certainty the count will increase once again. Like several of the current craft, this one will likely be somewhat of an impulse buy: We’ll fall in love with what we see and rationalize our need for it.

Funny thing is, while I’m in the realm of the mere mortals, those in the stratosphere of superyachting are afflicted with the same compulsion. How many the times I’ve walked the show docks at Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach or Monaco and seen a “sold” sign hanging from a stern rail, the new owner grabbing his prize quickly so no one else does.

When someone asks why our family has so many boats, I suppose we could claim one or more of the scenarios above, but instead I refer to an old “Hagar the Horrible” comic strip. Hagar, a chubby Viking captain (the kind with horns on his helmet, not a sportfisherman under his feet), confronts a friend on the dock, asking, “Is it true you own seven boats?” “Yes, that’s true,” comes the reply. “But why do you own seven boats?” Hagar persists. The friend replies, “Because I used to have eight and I just sold one.”

To any true aficionado, the response makes perfect sense. Singers including Lionel Richie and the band Pablo Cruise, and movies including “The Lion King,” have all expressed in song that “love will find a way.” For those of us who love the sea in all its sizes and forms, the way we find it is a boat or yacht that suits our particular interest. If we love the sea a lot, it is only natural that we should have a lot of boats.

Boating bigamy is not a crime. It is a blessing. 

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