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Grand Ambition

Bruce Knecht

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When Charles Stuart, later King Charles II, was in exile in Holland, he enjoyed the Dutch jaght schips, or 'hunting ships' which the rich used as pleasure boats, with kitchens and chefs. The Dutch gave him a 52 foot version with gilded cabins filled with paintings and sculptures. Charles built at least another 25 pleasure boats, but in English the name changed slightly to yachts.

Pleasure boats would moor at Mediterranean docks, pay a nominal docking fee, but a 'tip' for the harbour master of a few thousand dollars a day. They could sit on their boat and watch the tourists go by. But then the Russians arrived, spending money like water, and everyone else found themselves anchoring instead of docking.

Owner got hit with an unexpected 'upcharge'. But responding, he didn't show the extent of his anger. He had come to believe it was counterproductive to reveal his emotions, particularly negative ones. "When you show someone you're upset, you let them control you." So instead he replied "I believe we have always dealt fairly with each other in the past. I wd not want this to change my mind. Let's try and resolve this on a friendly and fair basis."

Critical ingredient for finishing a boat hull is fairing compound. Costs over $70 a gallon, but near miraculous transformation of surfaces making them as smooth as porcelain. So glassy smooth that many viewers conclude boats come out of giant fiberglass molds. But seriously hazardous to users health - fine dust from continual sanding gets past filters.

Maker, DuPont acknowledges dangers: in info sheet says "may cause nervous sytsem depression, characterized by the following progressive steps: headache, dizziness, nausea, staggering gait, confusion, unconsciousness." Noting that irreperable lung damage could result, anyone who experienced breathing problems should not be further exposed to the product."

You need a nett wealth of around $250 million to to afford one of these boats. But of the people with that mich money, just two and a half percent of them have a large yacht.

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