“The most engaging conversation is an argument.” That’s how Jake Beattie frames his proposal, which, of course, is a take on messing about in boats. Beattie is executive director of the non-profit Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington, and he advanced the idea for the Race to Alaska: 750 miles, no engines, no support, no excuses.
If you were born and raised in a Baltic country between the two world wars, you were dealt a tough hand. Through no particular fault of your own, you were destined to become a pawn in the bloody chess game played by two of the most notorious villains in world history, Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler.
In short succession each of them occupied this area of northeastern Europe and installed murderous puppet regimes that carried out ethnic cleansing on a vast scale.
If Aristotle was right, there is a foolish corner in the brain of the wisest man. And if he had known sailors (and how could he not?) he must have observed that owners of wooden ships must have an especially large cerebral portion set aside for foolishness — because they are forever fiddling, sanding, painting and caulking. And when the yacht finally is shipshape, they quickly think of something else. Like building a wooden tender. It doesn’t get any more foolish than that. Or does it?
If saving and restoring old boats were like football, Joachim Kaiser would be the second coming of Vince Lombardi. Like the legendary NFL coach, Kaiser has won many battles, often snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, drawing on his knowledge of the game and an ability to adjust as necessary. He knows the tricks, and he knows the blunders, many from firsthand experience. Paraphrasing Lombardi: To achieve success, there is a price to pay. Kaiser paid his dues in the restoration business, which requires research, intuition and the ability to shake the money tree.
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