I once had a good friend tell me this. She was a single mom who had her daughter at a very early age (eighteen) and raised her on her own through college and law school. By the time she and I came to be friends, she was an established, reputable lawyer and her daughter was about to start high school, and she told me this statement over lunch one day.
Sporting our “super serious” lawyer faces. Love you Dottie!
I was actually talking to her about my impending divorce and all the things that entails─moving to a new house, dating, finding someone new and a re-assessment of my life goals─and I disclosed to her that I didn’t think I wanted to have children.
“Oh, I don’t want children either,” she surprised me by saying, “but I want my child.”
It’s a funny thing. Once you bond with someone and they become ‘family,’ you can’t really undo the connection. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I’ve had several folks ask me since Phillip and I began sharing our re-fit with you all whether we wish we had bought a new boat. More specifically, a good friend recently asked me over dinner: “Do you ever think about selling your boat and just buying a new one?” I was actually taken aback by the question because my immediate, knee-jerk reaction was: “Never, absolutely not.”
Honestly, the thought has never crossed neither mine nor Phillip’s mind. And, in trying to explain why that was my long-ago conversation with a wise single mother and her the seemingly-oxymoron statement about children came to mind. Phillip and I can’t just “sell our boat” and buy a new one. She’s family. I had to laugh because the friend I was having dinner with had actually just been telling me about some troubles she was having with her teenage son and his─as she put it─”I have no clue what I want to do with my life, but I know everything and I hate you” phase. So, I put it to her this way: “Do you ever think about trading your child in and just getting a new one?”
Like Phillip and I, she was taken aback. It was a thought she had never possibly considered because you just can’t. That’s how Phillip and I feel about our Niagara. When you find “your boat” that’s exactly what she becomes: your child. No matter how much she may irritate you, worry you, cost you, you never fathom the possibility of just giving up on her. You can’t. She’s family.
It may sound cheesy, but it’s really the best way I feel I can put it. Although much of what we are doing during these “times on the hard” are just necessary, every-so-often major things you have to do to a boat, it seems these projects seem a little frightening to those of you who are new to boat ownership. Even if I were to couch it in those terms, purely for the sake of argument─i.e., that what we’re dealing with is a costly, project boat─if someone were to ask me why we hadn’t considered selling this “problem child” and buying a new one, my answer would be:
We don’t want a costly project boat, but we want our boat.
Does that make sense? Whether you have an old, 1960’s wooden schooner or a brand new Beneteau, she’s going to need maintenance. She’s going to cost you time and money to keep her healthy and safe and she’s going to irritate you at times, make you want to curse and slap her.
But other times she will bring you joy you could have never fathomed was possible without her. Well-behaved or wild child, she is yours. And for that reason, you want her.
I don’t mean to belittle the question of whether we would prefer to hang up the towel and buy a new boat. It is an honest response and inquiry from someone who has not yet found “their boat.” But I thought─as many more of you likely have children as opposed to “your boat”─this could perhaps help you understand. Phillip and I don’t want to spend our days in the shipyard. We don’t want to spend more money than makes us comfortable on boat projects. We don’t want to find a new potential problem area or another repair that needs to be done next month, next season or next year. But, we want our boat.
On a side note, in real time today is STEP DAY. All goes well, we’ll be putting the mast back up this afternoon. Can’t wait to see our little boat with her stick back in the air! Cross your fingers all goes well. “You better get to stepping!” Captain says.
14 thoughts on “I Don’t Want Children, But I Want My Child”
All boats, even the mightiest of Naval ships, have to occasionally spend time “on the hard” occasionally to under go repairs and refit. The best you can do really is manage the issues that come up and collect a list of items that need doing then regularly schedule time in the yard to handle them. Unfortunately in your case yours came up unexpectedly but no matter the boat (or ship) they will come up and will need to be in for a major repair.
Couldnt agree more Graham. All boats go through it. As an owner, if you never have to deal with a major repair I would consider you the exception.
Well stated and overviewed. She becomes your child or I think of her as my mistress. I hope at the end of the day you experience the ultimate feeling of “Yeah, we did it” as she looks tall and healthy again and ready to splash. Good Luck
Thanks Bill. She should gain about fifty more feet today! Thats enough to make me say “Yay!!” : D
Annie: A beautiful piece of prose. Thanks. As a professional sailor, I have sailed many different types of boats, too many to count. They were almost all nice boats to sail and the owners loved their boats but they weren’t for me/us. Now, we have “the one.” Averisera just fits us even though she is probably far from perfect. In so many ways, the right boat is the one you get to sail so sail on.
One of my take-aways from pro sailing is that your Niagara’s size is about perfect for a couple. Nothing is too big to handle and the boat isn’t too small to voyage. Not to mention, she’s a pretty boat… and pretty counts. Hope to see you in an anchorage somewhere stunning!
Norm on Cape Cod
Hey hey Norman. Great piece of prose yourself there. Couldn’t agree more. What’s the story behind the name: Averisera? I love that!
Averisera is a math term for a versed sine curve. You’ll have to look that up since it would take too long and require drawings to explain. The curve is also called the “Witch of Agnesi.” Maria Agnesi was a brilliant woman mathematician in the 18h Century who finally figured out he formula for the curve. Being a brilliant woman mathematician was a hard road to travel, as you might imagine. Guess where the “witch” part came from? Brilliant woman? Anyway, both Elizabeth and I have daughters who are bright, very bright, and struggled to fit in. I liked the story and always thought to name a boat in her honor. We did, just not the name I planned. No matter. However you slice it, Averisera is our special child. We have six real kids and four grandkids, as well. They now require slightly less maintenance than the big boat! So, we are building them a little boat. See out blog “averisera.com” where we explore the joys of epoxy and wood and fiberglass cloth!
Great. Thank you Norman. I will! I always love hearing the origin of boat names. That’s about the most unique one I’ve heard. Thanks for sharing!
Selling a boat is easy, once you don’t feel stupid having bought it. This happens either when the boat fulfilled enough of the dreams it evoked when you bought it or when you’re so fed up with it you don’t care any more. The first case is akin to a child becoming adult and moving out, the second like putting to sleep a terminally ill pet.
Wow. Also good analogies. I rememeber when we bought our Niagara from the couple who had sailed and cruised her for 28 years and the wife cried and said she felt just like that, like a child was going away to college.
so glad to hear the stepping is today. put a penny under the mast for good luck.
let the celebration begin!
Ahh! See? This is why I’m lucky to have you watching over me Jay. We talked about doing it but I might have forgotten. Thank you!
I feel the same way about my Nicholson 33. I feel my boat’s “soul”
Some vessels appeal to the humanity in us and that means only we, the boat skippers, understand and appreciate it. There is no other explanation I can fathom.
Glad you are picking up what I’m putting down Brian. Just saw you signed up to follow on the blog. Best decision you’ll make all day. I’ll get your free eBook to you right now via email. Welcome Aboard!