May 27, 2021
It’s likely fair to say that most boaters don’t know much about infectious diseases, immunology or vaccine formulation. But boaters do know a lot about waves, something that seems to elude all the doctors and elected officials who are driving the current health environment.
When I was ten, my dad showed me the basics of operating our plywood fishing boat on Buckhorn Lake. “When you see a wave coming your way,” he explained “you bear off a bit so you slice through it, rather than taking it broadside.” He helped me to take the wheel and we experimented so I learned how things work. Approach a wave on the bow and the boat rides through it; allow it to arrive on your flank and the boat pitches uncontrollably from side to side, lunch spills and you lose speed. I believe you boat drivers all know this – it’s a fundamental notion that is both obvious and necessary.
An Art Carlson designed Glastron Scimitar from the 60s, manages oscillating waters beautifully
Designers take this concept further. Consider Art Carlson’s 1970s Glastrom designs or Bruce Farr’s various racers and racer cruisers. Hulls that handle the waves, keep the ride smooth. Passengers remained comfortable even as the hull cut, skimmed or otherwise managed the waters. Consider the America’s Cup boats using technology to rise above the waves to achieve terrific speeds without rocking or rolling.
Maybe my metaphor is a little stretched but it’s hard to deny that the pandemic waves that we are currently experiencing, including the fourth wave aiming at Japan that is now re-threatening this summer’s Olympics are causing a lot of turbulence on this boat we share. A lumpy ride, lots of pitching from one gunwhale to the other and a lot of very ill passengers.
Perhaps right from day one we should have brought in boaters to help the immunologist anticipate waves and steer through them. Perhaps they should have taken the hint when at the beginning of the pandemic everyone from Stephen Colbert to Kermit the Frog was gravitating to seas shanties. As the Beach Boys predicted in their wisdom back in 1963 “Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world.” What they didn’t mention in that song is that if you miscalculate the wave, you can easily wipe out.