Choose The Boat That’s... You


Choose The Boat That’s... You


This spring, more Canadians than ever before millions of them-will think about buying a boat. If you’re one of them, your problem will be confusion. You’ll have a myriad of sizes, shapes and colors to choose from. We think we’ve found a solution: just as you know a man by his dog, so can you tell a man by his boat. For the romantic who likes wind-song and white sails shaking, a racing dinghy. For the speed addict, the howl of a hot motor. And so on. Maclean’s 1970 guide to people and their boats - including what’s new in every category - begins on the following page. If you can find yourself in it, meet your boat.

For the playboy: A Powerboat Racer

MARRIED OR NOT, the owner of a powerboat racer tends to remain an unattached man. An instinctive gambler, he’ll try anything once, whatever the cost. His snowmobile will have the biggest engine; his car will have rally stripes with a super-V-8 motor under the hood. Impetuous and unpredictable, he's the life of the party, the jester who shows up in tails at a barbecue. During the summer, he’s the playboy of the waterways, trailing his boat from place to place for racing, water skiing and weekend parties. He likes small muscular boats, with sleek design and lots of power.

Take Lome Hogan, 29. Hogan is married, and very much attached to his wife, but he is a free man. His boat racing reflects his taste for speed and style. “Two years ago, I’d never driven a boat — now, I’m the Canadian racing champion. That’s how I like to do things — fast, no matter how much it costs. I like to add a little excitement to things. Racing boats is a guarantee.” His first winning boat, Black Panther (a 16-foot fiber-glass design with twin 125-hp engines) placed first in the class division FJJ stock-outboard. It also gave him ninth place out of 180 entries in the 1968 World Championships in Arizona. After two summers of racing, he stripped his boat down for better performance. The 18-foot aluminum hull and twin 125hp engines cost about $12,000. He christened it Hogan’s Heroes and it won first place in the unlimited boating class for the Canadian Championship in 1969.

“I stayed out of stock-car racing because of the expense,” he says, “but boating is sure catching up.” (He has already invested about $18,000 in racing.)

Hogan owns three variety stores and 23 snowplows but these businesses, he says, can barely support his hobby: “At this level, the only way to race is get a sponsor.” It’s expensive gambling. If the boats are damaged, or sink, the investment is a total loss. Most racers are living well beyond their means. “Insurance on boats is hard to get unless you have a steady income. You can run into debt over one race.”

Most of the races are around buoys, testing endurance and speed. Rigid safety regulations are checked before the race. Every boat must have a fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, two paddles and an automatic electrical disconnect on the motor in case of accident. The driver wears a collar-type life jacket and a fluorescent-orange helmet.

“The challenge in boat racing is not so much the speed, even though I like cruising at 60 mph. It’s the course that’s difficult. The lake changes every second and the water gets choppier. You have to ride your boat on a course that is never the same.”

If you want to spin out at 70 mph, you can race in hydroplane competition. The variety of classes available divides according to boat and motor; inboard or outboard, with racing or stock engine. Prices for boats depend on many variables, such as material used, length of boat and engine power. You can buy a design for $25, build it for $700 and add a racing engine for about $1,000. Sportscraft racing is another division for testing the family speed boat against others in various classes (both inboard and outboard). For information on races in your area and boat classification, write to the Canadian Boating Federation, 67 Yonge Street, Toronto.

Many of these fast boats are ideal for expert water-skiing. But if you have that in mind, you should be looking for manoeuvrability as well as speed. A fiber-glass deep-V hull gives good wave configuration and turns easily in open, choppy water. A boat with a modified-V or cathedral hull performs better on inland lakes; you should use at least a 40hp engine. Skiing extras are towline attachments and cords (polypropylene braided cord is often used for its strength and buoyancy).

For the water daredevil, there's kite flying. All you need is a boat with an 80-hp motor, some wind and a kite (about $250). If that’s not challenging enough, there’s the “Parasail” (about $500). Once the water skier is in the air, the sail acts as a parachute; he cuts himself loose on a quick-release cord and glides to the water.

For the armchair admiral :

A Power Cruiser

THE POWERBOAT CRUISER Is for the armchair athlete who enjoys a game of bridge or hand of poker. People are his main concern — dinner parties, card games, cocktail hours and chats over the back fence are the things he enjoys. His few sports are social ones, such as bowling and curling. When he vacations, he really means a holiday: two or three weeks of sitting back, relaxing and basking in the sun. He’s an easy-going, noncompetitive fellow. If he owns a boat, it will be a cruiser — wide, spacious and as comfortable as a second home. He may not be a great seaman or navigator, but he has a love for the water and the seagoing jargon. In every sense, he’s admiral of the docks, cruising when the sun shines, partying when it rains.

John Jardine, vice-president of a furniture store, decided eight years ago to buy a 40-foot mahogany cruiser rather than a cottage. "A cabin cruiser,” he says, “is not a rich-man’s luxury when you compare it to the cost of a cottage, land, maintenance and taxes. I bought the cruiser mainly because I have to work Saturdays. Leaving the city when the weekend is half over, driving two hours to the cottage, repairing the roof, seeing my family for the first time in five days — it all seemed a bit ridiculous.” Now, between May and late October, on hot, humid evenings, the Jardines lock up the house and spend the night on the cruiser moored in the city harbor. “This is the way to spend a summer,” says Jardine. “On Friday nights, I can be on my boat in half an hour, sipping a dry martini while everyone else fights his way out of the city.”

Cruising has allowed the Jardines more freedom than cottage life. "You have all the convenience and comfort of a summer home, but you can go where you want — even if it’s only four or five miles out in the lake. You can picnic on lemonade and sandwiches or sit down to a candlelit dinner of shrimps and Sauterne. Gracious living is synonymous with power cruisers: carpeted floors, wood interiors, sun decks and builtin bars. Although the galley space and sleeping accommodation are small and compact, the deep-V hull design and usually optional flying bridge make the cruiser one of the more glamorous boats afloat.

But it can be expensive. Wood boats may promote an image of prestige and have built-in snob value, but maintenance is costly and time consuming. Fiber glass is a better choice for durability and upkeep.

New models feature more galley space, better refrigeration and larger locker storage. The trend is toward increased privacy in sleeping accommodation. Many of the 1970 cruisers have tri-cabin units and separate staterooms. One of the newest designs is the “Spoiler 30,” an all fiber-glass sedan fly-bridge cruiser from Cheoy Lee, Hong Kong. This craft sleeps nine, has a built-in bar, wall-to-wall carpeting in the aft cockpit and cabin, plus stainless-steel deck hardware (about $26,000).

For the competitor:

A Sailing Racer

THE SMALL-BOAT (or wet) racer doesn't like to specialize. In track and field, he’d probably go in for the decathlon rather than concentrate on a particular event. Nor does one sport satisfy him. He prefers to be a doer whether he’s hitting tee shots down the fairway or skiing down a slope. His family is part of his recreation and he’ll include-them most of the time. But he’ll be the experimenter, the pioneer, the first to try a game of handball or sail a dinghy. If he sails, he will keep to the small boats — the wet ones — in which he can hang over the side with a trapeze. He wants a small, temperamental, class dinghy he can sail once a week, turn over in the winter and forget about his new boat when he stepped into it for the first time, has been racing now for three years. “To start a new sport at my age,” he says, “you have to be a bit of a clown, but I like to give everything a try. After my first summer, though, I thought I’d never make the grade as a sailor. There was a whole new language to learn — ropes were no longer ropes but ‘sheets.’ I had to reach, jibe, hike and do all those things I’d never heard of.”

A summer of sailing instruction was just an experiment for the Greers. Don bought a family membership in a yacht club (he has a wife and two children, eight and five) and took the course to see if sailing would be a good family sport to invest in. It was.

The following year, his wife Diana took sailing lessons (“I didn't want to be left on shore”). Two summers later, the Greers still didn’t own a boat of their own — they crewed on other members’ dinghies. Holding back on a big investment gave them a chance to find something that suited their needs. “We wanted a family boat for day sailing, easy enough for a husband and wife to crew.” Their choice was an "Albacore,” a fiberglass 15-foot dinghy, a popular racing class in a modest price bracket (about $1,200).

Of all sailing buffs, the dinghy sailor is generally required to spend the least. And, potentially, his sport is the most dangerous. So follow the Greers' example and learn first. The Canadian Yachting Association (91 Yonge Street, Toronto) can provide you with a list of instruction centres for both children and adults. Before buying a boat, find out what best suits your needs. If it’s for a small lake, the 13-foot-10-inch “Sunfish” is a good investment (about $650). On a larger lake, you should consider the “Albacore.”

It’s important to buy a class of boat popular in your area. Dinghy sailors invariably race, and competitive racing allows only for boats of the same class to compete.

The next class up in racers is the “International 14” (about $2,200). You can gain sailing skills with this boat by adding a trapeze, spinnaker and different sails for higher performance. The “Fireball” (a hot little centreboarder handled with a twoman crew) is one of the newest classes in racing. Now with Olympic status, the “Fireball” races with a spinnaker and trapeze (about $1,800).

For the man-at-the-top:

An Ocean Racer

THE OCEAN-RACER skipper probably owns his own company. If not, he’ll occupy executive jobs in others. Well-tailored in pinstripe suits, he drives a Riviera, furnishes his office in leather and mahogany and smokes (if anything) a pipe. Competitive and aggressive, he seeks a challenge in whatever he does. If he skis, he races; if he sails, it’s on the ocean. As an ocean sailor, his sport involves him totally — either for weekend races or midweek workouts at the gym. As a result, he probably doesn’t spend as much time with his family as his family would like. Exclusively a man's man, he enjoys serious competition and sailing, at this level almost a second business.

At 34, Colin Wilson is a veteran seahippie, who runs his own insurance agency when he isn’t working winches. "Once you get into ocean racing,” he says, “you almost have to own your own business to take those three and four-day weekends. My sea bag is never unpacked — I’ll crew for any race, whether it’s on the west coast, Bermuda or Lake Ontario.”

Wilson’s office has a nautical look of pine cabinets, chairs and braided ropes. “Like most racers, I’ve been in and out of boats since the age of seven. At this level of sailing, your involvement in the sport is total. I have no time for golf and skiing. When you’re in it this deep, something is bound to suffer — if it’s not your business, it’s your family.”

Although ocean racing is purely a Corinthian sport (laurels are a tin cup and flag), it has accelerated into a deadly serious game through the sophistication of equipment, design and use of computers. Amateur as it is, millions of dollars are poured annually into faster boats, new sails and electronic equipment. “If you have to ask about the cost,” says Wilson, “don’t get involved. Every sail, rope and winch has to be of the best quality to handle 40-mph winds.”

Wilson owns a 5.5-meter-class boat (30 to 34 feet), but it lacks the necessary safety features for competition in the southern circuit. For Wilson, the cost of skippering in that league is prohibitive — it’s cheaper to crew on someone else’s boat.

Costs apart, ocean racing is an intricate technical exercise. Preparation for a race usually starts three months in advance. A work chart is set up, menus are planned, course hazards predicted and the crew selected. The depth of the crew (their alertness and ability to handle different jobs) and the success of the operation depends on how well everyone fits in. Compatability can often win a race. “Crewing is like living on a sub,” Wilson explains. “You are cooped up with 10 or 12 men for a 48-hour race, through storms and high winds. Everyone has to work together, like on a football team. Animosity and low morale can wipe out all the pleasure of racing.”

Usually, the skipper divides the crew in half for four-hour watches. Some sleep while others sail. The cook prepares daily meals of steak, bacon and eggs (the skipper controls the use of liquor). The navigator, who is on 24-hour call, charts the course, speed and distance covered.

“It takes a rugged kind of man who enjoys getting out of bed in wet clothes after a four-hour sleep,” says Wilson, "sipping a cup of coffee and then fighting to keep it down. The hardships are all there. The test is how you handle them.”

There’s little logic to the amount of time and money spent in offshore racing. Ask any racer what he thinks of his sport and he’ll compare himself to an Englishman standing under a cold shower, tearing up five-pound notes.

If you want to get into long-distance racing, you’ll need at least a 30-foot sailboat (each additional foot will cost about $2,000). Other costs: sails, navigational equipment, docking and trailering. As skipper you pay for boat repairs and food for the crew. Boats are allowed to race only if they meet the safety regulations of the International Offshore Rule (IOR) or the Cruising Club of America. Races can be long-distance, or around buoys with winners determined by a handicap system (each boat has a weight-and-measurement rating). Competition usually is open to every kind of sailboat in the offshore category.

For mother-at-sea:

A Houseboat

THE HOUSEBOAT enthusiast is often a woman — usually a young mother. Her first concern is the children, and they leave little time for outside interests. She may play bridge once a week or take an evening course in conversational French, but she prefers to spend her time at home. The family is an integral part of her life and a houseboat is the best and safest way of getting afloat and taking the kids along, too.

Mrs. Audrey Jenkinson, the mother of six, always felt uneasy around boats until three years ago when her husband Noel finally persuaded her to try a houseboat. “The swaying of boats had made me nervous. But aboard the houseboat — it looked so secure — I lost my fear and found my sea legs.”

Now Mrs. Jenkinson moves the family on board every weekend during the summer. “It’s not like a cruiser,” she says. “The kids have lots of room to play games and I don’t have to worry about them scratching teak decks or damaging the cabin.” The Jenkinsons’ 33-foot, $15,000, steel-hull houseboat sleeps eight comfortably and has a large galley with oven and refrigerator, and a shower with hot and cold running water. “For me, houseboating is a real holiday — more luxurious than a cottage (our boat has wall-to-wall carpeting) and easier to keep clean.”

A guardrail prevents the children from slipping over the side. But the three youngest (all under six) wear life jackets outside the cabin — just in case.

“With the houseboat,” says Mrs. Jenkinson, “we usually take the children for a two-week trip and visit different towns — places they'd never see from the highway.”

In recent years, houseboats have lost their trailer-on-a-raft look and are now being built with a modified V hull. This change provides for better stability and greater speed (a 37-foot houseboat with twin engines can tow a water skier). For all their new sophistication, houseboats are still a snap to operate. If you can drive a car, you can captain a houseboat. Costs range from $15,000 (for a 33-foot craft) to about $23,500 (for a 43-foot luxury line).

For the connoisseur:

A Sailing Cruiser

THE MAN WHO PREFERS cruising is a connoisseur. He’ll choose his boat with the same care that goes into selecting a good vintage burgundy. Quiet and introspective, he doesn’t overindulge. His tastes are refined and distinct. There’s a romantic element to his lifestyle. He avoids crowded discothèques, long cocktail parties and Saturday-nights-with-the boys. Generally athletic, he prefers to compete with himself rather than others. In that sense, he’s a loner. Sports will be limited to those he does well and can enjoy with his family. His natural instinct is toward simplicity and solitude — a farm in the country or a cruiser on the water.

For Uno Prii, an architect who designs apartment highrises, sailing is an escape from the city he helped Create. “A boat is freedom. You feel there’s no limit to where you can go. Whenever I feel stuck between buildings and people, I know I can always take to the water — to an expanse of Lake Ontario that feels nearly as wide as the Pacific.”

Prii bought his sleek, fiber-glass “Alberg 30” sailing cruiser a year ago to keep sailing in the family. His wife and two children (13 and 12) spend weekends on the boat. It has a galley, head (toilet) and four berths — and it qualifies as anadequate racer in class competition.

“I do some racing, but mostly I enjoy testing my skill against nature. You have to know the wind well, when to yield to it and when to take advantage of it. I prefer pleasure cruising around the inland lakes with my family. We are on board together with no interruption, no television, no telephone.

“For us, sailing works to keep us closer together. It also fills a great psychological and physical need — to compete with nature.”

Romantic and admittedly so (“I know all this may sound dramatic”), Prii has other reasons for his love of sailing. “For all the years I’ve sailed, there have never been two days the same. The lake changes color, the wind can blow gales or breezes, the sky can be squally or clear.”

Those like Prii who don’t want to be landlocked or tied to cottages might consider the sailing cruiser. One of the most popular cruising classes in Canada is the “Shark” (about $5,500). This 24-foot fiberglass boat has room for four — and good resale value.

In calculating costs, you should remember that bigger boats (above 20 feet) usually have fixed keels instead of retractable centreboards. Thus, trailering is more difficult and mooring more expensive — the bigger the boat, the more it costs to dock. The “Alberg 30” (the one chosen by Uno Prii) has space for up to six people (about $16,000).