Practical Sailor – Sanctuary in a world gone mad

Greg King, Publisher of Practical Sailor, really rang my bells this morning with this gem of “Pressure-selling”. Although, it would be wrong to lump his piercing piece of pen-craft in with the marketing drivel normally associated with the term. In this instance, he is merely stating a lot of long overdue truths. Take this for example:

” Historically, the sailing industry has been close-knit,
dominated mostly by small well-established companies. Many of these were old, family run
businesses, some dating back to the age of sail.

The owners of these companies were passionate about sailing and cared about making
quality products. And they stood behind them. They felt a shared sense of duty to fellow
sailors.

Sadly, in an era that emphasizes get-rich-quick schemes, the unspoken pact among
sailors is swirling down the scuppers. “

Go ahead and read the whole piece here: practical-sailor-breath-of-fresh-air

It’s packed with truisms that will make you as happy to read as you are sad for a world rapidly being lost for dreamers and sailors alike.

It worked for me, and I promptly signed up for another 12 months for the online magazine. No, not because I read it that much. Luckyfish is not very gear hungry, (although when I need information I know I can trust this publication more than any other sailing news source). But simply, to support the message that Practical Sailor stands for, in a world going mad around us.

NB. We are not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with Practical Sailor. As if I need to tell you that ! Spread the Love.

That’s why I sail,

Stewart.

In NZ, sailing is for everyone.

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text class=”cs-ta-left”]Growing up and learning to sail in New Zealand taught me many lessons. One lesson that stands out is that sailing is not just for the wealthy.287_1-red

Kids learn to sail for next to nothing by sailing on friend’s boats or by joining a club and using club training boats. If you want your own boat and can’t afford to buy one, you build one. The wonderful thing about New Zealand sailing culture is that it is no different to rugby or cricket. It is open to everyone.

This may be why I don’t understand the push towards ever larger and more expensive cruising boats. They seem to be driven by design criteria that bear no relevance to the essential pleasures of cruising under sail.

That kiwi culture is in total harmony with the achievements of Moitessier and Wharram who turned the “yachting establishment” on its head by completing amazing voyages in simple affordable boats. They gave rise to a generation of dreamers who could now see the possibilities.
[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_blockquote cite=”” type=”left”]”It had to snatch these dreams away and place them back out of reach”.[/x_blockquote][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”2/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text class=”cs-ta-left”]No sooner was this “can-do” generation of home-builders underway, the “pleasure boating industry” sprang up. Marketing departments went into overdrive from annual boat shows to quid pro quo magazine advertorials, clouding the concept of escaping under sail with the very material adornments, even financing arrangements, we were escaping from.

It was almost as though the establishment would have none of this new found freedom and independence. It had to snatch these dreams away and place them back out of reach.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text class=”cs-ta-left”]

No sector is this more true than the cruising catamaran. Over the last twenty years, the catamaran construction industry has learned three major commercial lessons that have formed the range of craft we see available today.

Firstly, in the early naughties, cat builders were increasing efficiency and churning out boats. But they were running into a sales problem. They couldn’t compete with models built in earlier years that were readily available on the second hand market. These were models that refused to depreciate or die. Manufacturers had to take steps and sadly, as many surveyors and cat industry professionals will tell you, the post 2003/4 boats lack the construction quality of their predecessors. A form of in built obsolescence has taken over and that’s sad.

The second lesson came from the principle known as “economy of scale”. Labour constitutes at least half of the construction cost of a catamaran (any boat for that matter) and there are almost the same man-hours in building a 45 foot cat as there are in a 38. A builder can sell the 45 for almost twice the price of the 38 which equates to much better profit margins on bigger boats. No surprise then that marketing is directed at 40 footers and up. These are enormous boats, far beyond many of our needs.

The third lesson is volume. If the industry is to keep growing, how to make these boats appeal to a wider market? Charter industry relationships formed and flourished. Negative gearing, ownership and owner-use plans sprang up, entwining the financials with realising the dream. For many, this has become a clever solution to what has become an expensive problem and has lead to a boom in boat sales.

I’ve found that a bit of critical thinking goes a long way when you are trying to drown out the marketing buzz and listen to your inner voice. It’s useful to remember the ‘drivers’ that dictate the conversation we are having today about boat design, size and price, and contrast these with the reasons that attracted us to sailing in the first place. After all, sailing should be for everyone.

That’s why I sail,

Stewart.

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