True Genius

New vessels and the yachtsman’s theory of relativity.

June 18, 2017
llustrated by Steve Haefele Steve Haefele

My friend Hal had been planning a trip to the islands and should have been on his way. I checked on his progress with our mutual broker pal, Tom. “He made it halfway and came down with a stomach bug. He’s come about,” Tom said. “I just spoke with him about investing in an express cruiser.”

“Poor timing,” I scolded.

“Not at all,” he replied.


I imagined Hal aboard his 40-foot open boat: disappointed, soaked, sick and sour, passing through brutal squall lines and steep seas. “How could you pitch the poor ­devil on a new ride? Have you no compassion?” I challenged.

“Coyle, let me make this simple for you,” Tom replied. “Ever hear of Einstein? The theory of relativity?”

He explained that yachtsmen fall into two categories on the space-time continuum: “Coyle, I assume you are vaguely familiar with the basics of the Big Bang. Well, the Big Bang yachtsman explodes on the scene with a passion and freshly minted green. If the stars are right, his universe keeps expanding.”


I had observed Big Bangers firsthand in my yacht-design career. Forget about a Rolex or a Rolls-Royce; their first investment was a “megayacht,” about a 90-foot vessel at the time. I distinctly recall one fellow, wearing an ­eye-catchingly gaudy three-piece suit, stroking a check on the spot.

“Big Bangers aren’t working on their bucket list,” Tom continued. “They’re checking off their [email protected]&!-it list.”

For these kind of folks, size matters, and the rate of the expansion of their universe is proportional to their ride’s length overall. “All’s well as long as they can survive the vacuum of space. You know, boatyards,” Tom said.


“The Big Bang yachtsman explodes on the scene with a passion and freshly minted green. If the stars are right, his universe keeps expanding.”

He went on to explain that “quantum yachtsmen” were the true yachtsmen. “For them, there is no beginning and there is no end. They transmute ­effortlessly through the fabric of multiple yachting universes time and again, power or sail, large or small, slow or fast.”

I thought of one of my best clients. He commissioned so many boats, his passion seemed like an addiction. “I eventually felt so guilty about supporting his habit that I talked him out of a new design,” I told Tom, “but he just went and found another enabler.”

“Coyle, you’d never make it in yacht sales. Don’t you get it?” Tom asked. “The Big Banger will insist his boat is brilliant until he can fund a transom extension or move to the next size up. The quantum yachtsman may move up, down or sideways, but he’s always moving. You must be there for him in his time of need!


“Our pal Hal is a quantum yachtsman,” Tom added. “He’s had every sort of boat and always more than one. He will always be looking for another.”

According to Tom, Hal’s open yacht was the perfect choice for his cruise, until it wasn’t.

“You see, Coyle, I was doing him a favor,” Tom insisted. According to him, if yacht sales weren’t so complicated, everyone would do it. I’m no Einstein, but I think Tom is saying that, for the avid yachtsman, it’s all relative. Or … maybe not?


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