Boats and planes

I once dreamed of owning a boat — and decided that once I was rich enough, I would buy one. But by the time I was rich enough to buy a boat, I was taking flying lessons — and I decided I’d rather save the money to buy my own plane. For a few years I owned a Cessna 172 — a rather small four-seater — like an old Mini with wings.

Owning your own plane, especially something as modest as a little Cessna, is not as glamorous as you might think. If you want to impress people, the boat wins hands down — especially if it’s parked in your driveway much of the time for your neighbors to see. On nice weekends, you get dressed up in nautical attire, hitch up the boat trailer, and drive off safe in the knowledge that your neighbors are green with envy. If your vessel has a permanent mooring at a marina — well that works too — except that you have to make your nautical attire a bit more obvious so that when you leave your house, everyone knows you’re going out on the boat. And if your boat is moored at a marina, you don’t even have to take it out. On a summer day when tourists and visitors are strolling the waterfront, you can just be climbing around the outside, pretending to be preparing for a major excursion — and enjoy soaking up the stares of unconcealed envy — especially if you also have a couple of young blondes hanging around on the deck!

In case you didn’t know, boating is a culture of envy. If you don’t have a boat, then you envy anyone who has one. If you do have a boat, you envy anyone who has a bigger/better one — and bigger is almost always better.

But back to my little airplane. When I left the house to go flying, it was hard to signal that intent to my neighbors — short of wearing leather goggles and one of those white silk scarves with the wire in. I probably looked dressed for a day’s hiking in the Lake District, because I like to fly with the windows open. My plane was parked at a local airfield — up against a rusting chain-link fence amongst the weeds beyond the end of the runway — no admiring audience gasping in wonder as you tie down the bouncing plane on a windy day!

I kept the plane only a few years. I sold it when I realized that most of my flying time was in planes I rented when traveling.

I got to thinking about boats as I walked around the New Quay marina in Melbourne’s docklands this morning. It was an overcast Monday morning in late winter, so there weren’t many people around — but I found myself picturing the scene on a crowded summer weekend.

I guess I’m lazy. A boat seems like too much work.

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