Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Power Boats

I was quite surprised to find I was not alone in choosing to photograph the beached power boats at Truman Waterfront. The boat races ended last week and these few boats were left, the rearguard of the body of boats that had already streamed off Up North after a few days of buzzing round Key West harbor like angry bluebottles.
I got this picture off http://thisweekontheisland.blogspot.com/ to return the favor to Doug Bennett for his compliments on my blog.
They put up these rather cool tent-like structures to protect the poor dears from the weak winter sun. They looked rather handy."Over sized load" indeed. These boats carry a lot of strange baggage with them. In Key West mention of power boats tends to evoke the same sort of reaction as Bike week gets. People that like engines and racing extol their virtue as one more form of tourist income. Opponents of noisy blue bottles dashing dementedly around the harbor ignore the wealth potential and wish them gone forever.I fall somewhere in the middle. When I used to work as a sailboat captain they were a mild nuisance, pretty much as they are a mild nuisance on the Overseas Highway as they trek slowly in and slowly back out. Beyond that their noise and roiling wakes leave me indifferent. From a distance they look sleek and rather scientifically improbable. Close up they carry fiberglass scars like any boat that has come up hard against an immovable object.What they do is pretty much what's illustrated here: They buzz up, with a quick u-turn at one end of the course whereupon they race madly back in another straight line. Whoever does this fastest wins. The Citizen had a breathless report in the sports pages of the gut wrenching excitement of a close finish to the races but it wasn't what really interested me.I am no great sports fanatic but power boat racing seems crazy to me. Drive in a straight line one way then go back the other way. Enormous skill is involved I'm sure but really...so what? The whole business rather reminds me of the car race in On The Beach by Nevil Shute. The end of the world is closing in on Australia and in one last burst of fun they organize a car race to burn off the last of their hoarded gas. In a world where future energy supplies are a subject for debate (among some of us) the idea of burning fuel to do this seems weird. But there again, no more so than a lot of other human activities.I've been told that it takes millions to run one of these boats competitively and they are just one more play thing for the Lear jet crowd. They seem to have fun with it.I had fun with the camera, as incomprehensible as I find this stuff.Frankly I am no great fan of sail boat racing either even though I know how to sail. I think that stuff is pretty boring from a distance too, but boats are always cool to photograph.It was a pleasant sunny afternoon and I enjoyed wandering around keeping an eye on Cheyenne as I went.I turned my camera on the ramp where they launch these behemoths and found this guy looking for dinner.Who won? I haven't got a clue.