From the Editor: Matters of Opinion

There's more than one way to skin a cat
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There's more than one way to skin a cat

Pat Schulte’s article in this issue on the relative merits of monohulls and multihulls got me thinking about, well, much the same thing. I’ve been lucky enough to sail a good many examples of each type of boat and I’m no closer to the ultimate answer to the question, “which is better?”

It’s another one of those sailing questions to which there is no definitive answer other than the woolly and feeble-sounding disclaimer “it depends…” Like which anchor is best, or which sailmaker, bottom paint, anchorage, varnish, chartplotter, etc. No one has an answer, but everyone has an opinion.

Like most people I am rather fond of opinions, because there is no need to back them up with those tiresome things known as facts. You can hold forth at great length about why it is better to join two lines with a pair of bowlines instead of a sheet bend, and absent destructive testing no one else’s opinion holds more water than your own. (I reckon neither has any real-world advantage, but that’s just my opinion.)

We sailors can be a bloody-minded lot. We’ll find something—a technique, a tool, it doesn’t matter—that works for us, and that’s it, end of story. No one will be able to argue you out of it, because it’s always worked for you, so why would you change? Anyone who has sailed on another sailor’s boat knows how pig-headed other sailors can be. You’ll cleat and coil a line, and the skipper will clear his throat and say, “Actually, could you just…” Or you’ll go below after trimming the sails perfectly, and the next thing you hear is the clicking of a winch or the groan of a sheet being eased. Or you’ll make all the docklines fast just so, and the skipper will follow you, uncleating and re-cleating and adjusting and generally fussing needlessly.

Of course, when you take other sailors out on your own boat it’s payback time. “Hey Gunther, that doesn’t go there, it goes there. And I don’t use locking hitches when cleating off the anchor rode. And if you twist that halyard while you’re coiling it, it’ll kink and jam in the clutch.” And so on. The fact that boating etiquette requires you to do things the way the captain wants them done does not make it any more palatable when his way of doing them is downright wrong—in your opinion, of course.

None of which gets me any closer to the answer to the mono versus multi question. There isn’t one, in my opinion. 

 When Peter Nielsen isn't editing at SAIL he races and cruises near Marblehead, MA.



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