There is a saying along the lines of “dogs being ‘like’ their owners” and i think that it was in the small Cornish fishing harbour at Mevagissey that i realised that boat owners might be ‘like’ both their cars and their boats : there, the only active boats were the series of chunky and serious looking local fishing boats that came in around dark and then headed out again at around 4 the next morning and i noted, all their cars were were either pickup trucks or other 4×4’s. Their fishing boats all look to me a bit like Tonka-toy boats although in reality they are nothing like that and their owner/skippers all seem to be solid, chunky and serious seamen that work in weather that would keep me at home.
It was in Falmouth though that i began to look at boats and think of them as ‘beard’ or ‘non-beard’ and of course with an intermediate inter-beardal zone that might go one way or the other. Confused ? ok..its just that i have several personal classification systems for boats mainly in a spectrum from compelling through interesting to average, then dull, then corporate through to truly awful and ending somewhere in the bottom-feeder/pond-life of jet-ski’s and their chav-esque owners. Beard, or non beard in this context is a certain set of boat features that might suggest a full facial growth on the owner that belongs with the boat. Now : i never did get to see the owner of the title picture here but i wouldn’t put him past being right in the beard-zone…wooden boat, wooden spars, gaff etc but first and as a reference point lets take a look at the opposite end ie the definitely non-beardal zone : French production ‘lozenge’ and the only beards here would be deeply ironic/hipster and even then doesn’t go with the boat (classed as corporate/dull btw)
Lets get into the beard-zone then and you guys can start to get the idea. First up is this Slocum-esque ‘Spray’ copy : steel, very simple and rugged, hanked on sails and evidence of a woodburner….the plastic kayak is a bit of a worry but might just be marina camouflage. The beard here is likely to be the whole ‘Gandalf’ full face job complete with its own eco-system or with a dirty great singed patch from the mandatory pipe smoker.
The ‘Spray’ might just be a bit obvious and overdone, add baggywrinkles and the description would go immediately to ‘naff’ they aren’t particularly good boats. This next boatthough i think is the real deal :she’s almost certainly a one-off and definitely steel, she’s a chunky and attractive double-ender with a nice shear, a short cabin, good looking rig and all the sails are hanked on. Although thoroughly modern the radome and wind turbine all speak of ocean going capability and self-reliance. Definite beard-zone but trim and neatly kept and no yesterdays marmalade in sight !. Beards often seem to be steel, sometimes wood, the gear is rugged and simple and the boats look as though they have been somewhere or are going somewhere, self-steering windvanes are usually much in evidence. Most GRP boats aren’t beards except in a lets-pretend we are real sailors kind of way : my boat definiteley isn’t a beard nor was my last one….the Deben might have been although it was really a tad too small and had a very un-beard name.
The inter-beardal zone is the difficult one : there was this this one boat there , looked like a dogs-dinner with its home conversion, weird rig where nothing seemed to fit, odd stuff like bicycles strapped to the deck etc. No photographs required but i think you begin to get the idea now : if its owner had a beard then it would be straggly and ginger and hiding a whole load of acne. Although rugged and serious the OVNI that was alongside just looked a pikey mess…this one had potential with the mast steps and blister cover but….hmm…not sure.
To be continued.