Yachts and Investments

Anyone who has followed my career knows how much I love my 71 year old Herreshoff 12 ½ Petunia. It is a timeless shape that sails beautifully in lots of wind or next to none. My Pisces 21, Pentimento, Annie, Expannie, Anasazi, Gusto and others are designs that represent my hopefully skilled extrapolations of the brilliant concept Nat Herreshoff first coined in 1904.

My clients know that one of my first pronouncements about yachts is that the words Yacht and Investment should never be used in the same sentence, paragraph, or month.

But not always. When I was just back from two years in the Peace Corps in 1972 and still in my hippie phase, I decided all I wanted in the world was a Herreshoff 12½. I spent that summer’s weekends sleeping in the back of my VW van and looking at every available H 12½ between New York City and Mount Desert. I found Petunia in a mud creek boathouse on Vinalhaven Island.  Fellow’s name was Bernard Smith but everyone called him “Bun”. Bun Smith knew an easy mark when he saw him. Asked $1400 for the leaky old bucket and this city kid hadn’t the cheek to settle for less than $1350.

H 12’s in similar condition to Petunia with the builder’s plaque intact sell today for $40,000. I have tried stocks and never sold one for a penny more than I paid, bonds that barely kept pace with inflation, and real estate that is now worth half what I paid and headed rapidly south. The only investment I ever made in my entire life was that boat I paid too much for. Which I bought fully intending it to be nothing but an indulgence, purely for the fun of sailing.

Will your PAINE 26 become an investment? Like a Herreshoff 12½ it sails beautifully, is lovely to look at, needs no crew, is built to last, will get you home in 30 knots of wind without a tow, and will never go out of style.

So you never know. Build a PAINE 26 purely for the fun of it and plan on leaving it to your kids. You’ll feel like a millionaire every time you hoist the sails. And with this bunch in Washington in charge of maintaining the integrity of the currency, you might very well end up one, simply because you built this boat.

Or leave your money in your 401(k), stocks, or real estate and in a few years it will predictably be worthless. Your choice.