Stuff your history teacher never told you.
Ah, tradition. There’s something grand and glorious about the ways of the sea. Like calling a boat’s pointy end the bow, the square end the stern and any boat smaller than yours a piece of crap.
Sometimes I get a warm and gushy feeling. If it doesn’t mean that I’m moved by the sense that we boating folk are members of a proud fraternity. A fraternity that fosters strong bonds and condones drinking beers for breakfast, yet doesn’t make us live with forty college kids that never change their socks.
But most boatmen don’t know from whence all this tradition comes. In fact, most boatmen don’t even know people who still use words like “whence.” Well I do. Because I have a strong sense of history. How else can I explain such erotic pastimes as having my wife dress up as Betsy Ross while I don the uniform of Generalissimo Francisco Franco?
I believe that boatmen must understand this sport’s rich background, and since James Michener hasn’t bothered to write a novel about the history of boating, I’ll save him all the typing and having to be interviewed at 7 a.m. by grumpy know-it-all Bryant Gumbel. Here’s my version of what happened whence:
Creation. God creates heaven and earth in six days. On the seventh day, he wants to take the boat out. But even The Almighty can’t get the boat ready on such short notice.
Day 15. Eve convinces Adam to partake of the “forbidden flush,” and he empties the holding tank into the Bay of Eden . God’s punishment is swift and stern: Forever more, boatman will be plagued by sailboats and teak.
10,000 B.C. Boating reviews the NoahCraft Ark 54. Boat Tester Dextorius Hartipus says “the boat is so big, floating it could take a flood.” He also decries the lack of drinkholders. Our Test Team is puzzled by a standard equipment list that includes “two of every type of animal.”
1270 B.C. First powerboat is invented. But there is no way to get it on the water since the trailer hitch will not be invented for another 2,800 years.
1269 B.C. Bob Nordskog enters-and wins-his first powerboat race.
1268 B.C. Motor Boating & Sailing publishes its first article on Don Aronow.
1492. Columbus lands in America . His ships are inspected by the Coast Guard and he is fined for not having a bell.
1513. Juan Ponce de Leon fails in his search for the Fountain of Youth. He does, however, find a Fountain 41, which along with a 19-year-old cocktail waitress makes him feel a lot younger.
1776. George Washington throws a silver dollar across the Delaware . It hits a dockboy who just moments before had called the Father of Our Country “a cheap bastard.”
1876. Alexander graham Bell invents the telephone. His first call is to his marina to see if they can do some warranty work. The service manager tells him, “Sorry, wrong number.”
1932. Ernest Hemingway develops the image of the macho fisherman, and, during an offshore trip on February 2, consumes two cases of beer, a fifth of scotch, two bottles of red wine and three cans of Chef Boyardee ravioli. He spends the rest of the day chumming for tuna.
1960. Dick Bertram revolutionizes the boating world with the deep-V hull. Previous attempts at hull designs based on the alphabet led to such craft designs as the deep-N and the deep-Q. With only four letters left, Dick was considering a shift to bottom shapes based on colors.
1988. George Herbert Walker Bush is the first powerboatman elected President of the United States . J. Danforth Quayle is the first Vice President named for an anchor.