By Alan Lucas, SY Soleares
Unless your head has been buried in the
bilge these past couple of decades, you cannot help but have
noticed the disturbing shift in the sailor's psyche away from
healthy xenophobia about almost everything to an acceptance of
other influences and cultures. Nowhere is this more evident than
in his or her irrational acceptance of multi-hulls.
Don't believe me? Look out your porthole,
there's a plague out there.
Being an honest-to-goodness, fair dinkum
tar-and-canvas Ocker, I reject this merciless invasion of all
that is right and decent in Australian boating and make no apology
for railing against the erosion of our true maritime values.
Multiculturalism is one thing, but multihulturism is quite another.
As a dedicated monohulturist, bitter and
twisted about not being able to afford a vessel that holds its
value and goes twice as fast, I maintain that multihulturism
is divisive and discriminatory and should be stamped out. Catamarans,
especially, are everywhere, clogging up our waterways and popping
out from behind headlands and islands to frighten the life out
of decent, traditional sailors who they zoom past with haughty
indifference to claim the best position at the next anchorage:
and it's not as if they need to be first because their shallow
draft gives them the best anchorage anyway!
And once at anchor, some multihulturist are so indifferent to
their more sensitive, traditional cousins that they make no attempt
to counsel them with refreshments in their obscenely oversize,
undercover cockpits. They just leave us sitting miserably in
our open cockpits rolling our gunwales under and glowering at
them as we curse a trend that is destroying our cherished values.
Having always owned boats that are slower
than my willingness to accept change, I have seen more than my
fair share of transoms disappearing over the horizon ahead, but
in those days there was just one transom per boat, now I am obliged
to watch helplessly as two and even three transoms per boat disappear
at a much faster rate. This is serious in-your-face stuff that
would never have been tolerated with the old One-Hull Australia
Policy of my boyhood. In those days multi-hull designers mysteriously
disappeared, almost certainly as a result of covert operations
run by responsible single-minded and single-hulled maritime authorities.
Sadly, despite our government's earlier
and entirely admirable attempt to discourage this un-Australian
trend, radical, free-thinking designers prevailed and eventually
won the hearts of a spiritually impoverished, but cashed up segment
of society, presumably because of the superior speed of their
creations and their customers' love of going somewhere quickly
for no apparent reason. Why? Isn't cruising all about getting
there, not being there? What's so wrong with plodding along at
five knots, revelling in those sickening death rolls as every
watery hill and valley is explored along the way? We experience
nature at her best from which
cascading lockers, gear failure and technicolour yawns cannot
When the always-rushing multihulurist reaches
anchorage, he or she completely fails to understand the purity
of spirit that is the reward of real achievement. While monohulturists
put in quality time searching for lost objects in the bilge,
wiping food off the deck-head and praying that they got the tide
heights right before anchoring, multihulturists relax in a state
of luxury, insulated from reality aboard a stable platform that
can take the bottom at low tide where it doesn't even have the
decency to lie down to an impossible angle and deny food, drink,
and sleep to its crew for up to a fortnight.
So insensitive are some multihulturists
(on those rare occasions when they invite us true believers aboard),
they make a point of confronting us with the fact that nothing
falls over at sea and they have never heard of gimballed stoves
or fiddled shelves. Worse, they actually enjoy watching us squirm
with their stories of total stability in the worst of weather
when nothing catastrophic whatsoever happens!
If that's not intolerable confrontation,
then I don't know what is.
Multihulturists not only have faster, more
stable and spacious craft with which to outrage our sensibilities,
they also have an aircraft carrier-sized deck to romp on and
enough space on the cabin top to power a small city with solar
panels. How can these blatant excesses leave such people with
any sense of true-blue Australian values when the reality is
they are aliens on alien craft, unable to face the real world?
They are a lost race pathetically hammering at the door of common
sense and decency, unable to understand how they lost their mono-way
in the first place.
The frightening growth of multihulturism
seems unstoppable, but there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon
for us true believers. Signs of erosion are becoming evident
enough to raise the spirits of those for a little malicious pleasure.
Look at an example or two:
For starters, Australian marinas are upping
their rates for excessively beamy boats, which, with a little
luck, may eventually reach the double and sometimes triple rates
of overseas countries.
And then there is the fear of being damaged.
Remember, lightweight craft are built of lightweight materials
and this fact has many multihulurists paranoid about collision
with our old fashioned, built-like-a-brick dunny, monos. This,
if nothing else, allows us to muscle in at crowded anchorages
and enjoy a little serious intimidation towards those expensive
behemoths of the multi-hull variety.
And if you want a real buzz a deliciously
unbeatable form of one-upmanship, mention how naturally cool
your monohull is in the hottest weather thanks to her natural
flow of air from stem to stern. Multihulturists hate this one
because their vessels are so hard to ventilate properly that
on hot days they will actually accept invitations aboard monohulls!
Indeed, some become so fascinated by the notion of being on a
boat that is not like a Turkish bath they commonly outstay their
welcome to the extent of actually expecting a second cup of coffee!
Finally, there is the Achilles Heel of
all multihulturists: this is their fear of turning upside-down.
This is a card that can be played to enormous advantage as long
as you control the conversation. Steer it away from irritatingly
petty observations like, Well, at least multi-hulls stay
afloat whilst monohulls plummet to the bottom.
Whatever is done to prevent multihulturism
splitting our society in haves and wish we
haves, it should be diligently pursued to prevent further
erosion of a once happy and exclusive monohulturist society.
For goodness sake, some boat builders have even started making
a good living something that never happened in the good old days,
and if we're not very careful multi-hulls may even become growth
assets. This lamentable turn of events could go on to destroy
boating's proudest tradition: that of guaranteed financial ruin.
Furthermore, it could destroy the most outstanding character
trait of all traditional sailors, which is a rich and boundless
optimism underscored by a sense of utter futility.