All I Ask Is A Tall ShipBy: Mike July 17, 2016
Our lives revolve around two things: books and horses. The books are understandable, after all, that's how we keep the bills paid. The horses are occasionally a cause of some consternation.
Patty steadfastly maintains that the horses are a business venture. We've invested in broodmares, vet care, horse trailers etc. We've spent even more time and money in facilities (though I maintain that there's a problem with building sweat equity when all the sweat is mine). Patty gets to point out the fields and say, "Let's put another horse shelter over there, and then move that fence back a few feet." I get to make it happen . . .
The payoff for all of this time and effort is supposedly a second line of income. Each time we sell a foal Patty proudly displays her "income". So far, however, if you account for costs we've never managed to sell a horse for more than we've invested in it.
In her defense, Patty is doing a fine job of competing against farms with vastly bigger budgets, and people are starting to take note. Her confidence is not entirely unwarranted, and she might eventually turn a profit. Possibly tens of dollars!
Whatever the financial reality, the horses remain Patty's passion. Occasionally, after yet another horse-related expense has devastated our discretionary income, I throw a temper tantrum and stomp around the house ranting about how we should sell the blasted horse farm and simplify our lives.
Over the past couple of years, I've begun to fantasize about selling everything, taking the tidy stack of money that would result, and buying the biggest sailboat we can. I've watched a few of those travel-channel specials about the folks who leave their noisy apartment in the city and end up cruising the Caribbean on a sleek sailboat. The shows always end with the smiling couple, now bronzed from sun with hair artfully tousled by the sea breezes, holding hands and sailing into a flawless sunset for ports unknown. Hey, as fantasies go, it's a good one, right?
Back in the real world, I don't know a thing about sailing. Oh, it's true, I can sing a lot of semi-authentic sea chanties. And I'm no stranger to the ocean: I've been on two charted sailboat rides around the bay while visiting in California. Of course, the captain wouldn't let me touch anything, but it didn't look too complicated!
There was also the time I went sailing on a tiny catamaran my folks own on their little lake in Montana. My father took me out for a quick trip on the lake. We had a stiff wind, the water was as smooth as glass, and the little boat was zipping along at a surprisingly good clip. My father asked me to adjust a line, and without thinking I jumped from the center platform onto the nose of one of the floats. All two-hundred-plus pounds of me, and I did mention it was a tiny boat right?
Stupidity completed, physics took over. My landing was sufficient to drive the front of the float under water, effectively bringing it to a screeching halt. Since the boat was moving at speed, all of that kinetic energy had to go somewhere. Newton was vindicated once again, and the boat cartwheeled spectacularly across the lake. As I was getting thrown into the lake, I saw my father some distance above me, hurtling through the air as though he'd been launched from a catapult. Catamaran. Catapult. In hindsight, there's obviously a reason they sound similar.
Given my vast experience and sailing prowess, I'm exactly the sort of salty sea-dog who should sell everything, spend a couple hundred thousand dollars on whatever boat the smiling salesman recommends, and sail off into the sunset (being very careful not to jump on the front, er, bow of the boat). What could possibly go wrong?
And so, when things go badly on our little patch of dust and rock, I stomp around the house and talk about selling the whole thing and buying my sailboat. I occasionally even browse sailboat related classifieds as I'm nursing whatever new bump or contusion I've acquired from farm work. Would I be better with a sloop or a ketch? Is fifty feet long enough, or should I look for something even bigger? What the heck is Bermuda-rigged?
Patty just waits for me to simmer down and then says, "You can buy a boat if you want to, but I'm not getting rid of the horses, so make sure to get a boat with a deck big enough for them, OK?" She's insufferably smug.
Recently, however, I found a solution. The British Navy is selling a slightly-battered Aircraft Carrier! It's like an answer to my prayers. Oh, sure, it may cost a little more than the sailboats I've been looking at, and I'm a little concerned about the fuel cost. It apparently operates on gas, but they didn't mention how many miles-per-gallon the new owner might expect. If the ship has it's own desalination plant, I could set up sprinklers and grow grass on deck for the horses. There's even room for my tractor!
I can imagine the two of us, hand in hand and bronzed from the sun, standing on the bridge of our aircraft-carrier while the horses gallop and cavort on the long grassy deck as the sun sets into the Caribbean. Yes, I definitely need to make a couple of phone calls!