On Comparing Yachts and RVs ...

... Some practical thoughts on the joys of traveling.

Russell Berg

Over the last forty years I have had a lot of experience with life aboard yachts and RV's.  These two modes of getting away from the normal life (house, job, routine) have so much in common that I am moved to write a little essay on the subject.  Both of these "get away" vehicles involve travel, each with their own limitations, in a compact unit that provides exceptional opportunities for experiencing overwhelming beauty, socializing with like minded people and some times meeting difficult technical challenges.

While yachting, as a hobby, has been around for long time, it has only been since about 1950 when low maintenance and relatively low cost fiberglass was introduced that yachting became financially practical for the average person.  Tenting was the precursor of trailering.  With the development of robust automobiles in the 50's, trailers became practical.  So both trailers and yachts started their widespread acceptance about the same time.

Both yachts and trailers may be used in a variety of ways.  They may be used as seasonal cottages.  Once in place these units never move or they only move from an off season storage area to the location where they are used for the active season.  At the other end of the scale are full time users.  These people may live in one place or they may follow the seasons.  In between are all kinds of users.  By far the largest group are people restricted to weekend trips combined with longer vacation expeditions.  Another large group are the "snowbirds" who go south in the winter and return north for the summer.  Both yachties and trailerites use their units in these ways.

Both yachts and RV's have practical and financial restrictions on their usage.  US RV's are limited to US, Alaska, Mexico and Canada.  Yachts may wander the globe, but they are restricted to the oceans, major rivers, and large lakes.  Books are written about the exceptional adventurers who occasionally overcome these limitations.

Both yachts and RV's are marvels of compactness.  Lockers are found every where - under bunks, in upper corners, and under settees.  To make life acceptably comfortable for people used to the amenities of modern civilization, small refrigerators, air conditioners and furnaces have been developed.  Unfortunately this comfort comes with a price.  These appliances must be understood, maintained and, perhaps, coddled.  Therefore, both yacties and trailerites must develop technical skills for dealing with a variety of problems, often in remote places where ingenuity will be tested.  

Perhaps the greatest attraction to either of these modes of travel is that they take one to places of unbelievable beauty.  Yachties have their quaint harbors and remote islands.  Trailerites have the Tetons.  To both these kinds of travelers, often the trip is more important than the destination.

Clubs develop for most hobbies, activities and pastimes.  Yacht and trailer clubs, like other clubs sponsor social events and technical meetings.  In addition, yacht and trailer clubs sponsor events that have no parallel in other clubs. Travel is obviously the common denominator, with both trailer and yacht clubs.  Unique to trailer and yacht clubs are groups of units traveling to and meeting at a succession of planned destinations.  When yachts travel this way the trip is called a cruise; with trailers it is called a caravan.  Another type of club event is a trip to a single location.  Such an event would be for perhaps a weekend.  With yachts this would be a rendezvous; with trailers it would be called a rally

Sailors would find making the transition to trailer life an easy change.  Changing from trailers to boats is another story.  Sailors need a masochistic streak to deal with the motion and the cold and wet.  These are likely to deter trailerists who are used to a more stable, kinder environment.

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