Mr Beauté smiled at the little group of us huddled beneath the dripping, slimy hull of the yacht Guma suspended from a crane in Deauville marina. We were all there, Mr Beauté and four others representing buyer and seller, for this moment. Behind him I saw the crane man splash off across the rain-swept car-park leaving us dangling. Lunch-time is sacrosanct in Deauville.
He was only doing his job, but it was Monsieur Beauté’s fault. Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling caused when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their previous beliefs – buyers often suffer it, questioning the purchase decision, and I had a big dose of it yesterday in Deauville.
“There is nothing wrong with this boat that could represent a reason not to buy it.” He pronounced carefully, with the authority of a world-expert – which he is, on Amel Super-Maramu ketches. Hey, we all have to specialise. A bit much, I thought, coming from the man who had just shown how me that the anchor windlass was malfunctioning, the chain-counter was not working at all, the bow-thruster needed a vital part replaced and a key component at the head of the genoa furler was missing. (I’m sorry, unicorns(1) – this is stronger than me.) I expect that I was weakened by the sleep deprivation, but this should have been a moment of joy and I felt nothing but gloom. Cognitive dissonance will do that to a chap.
Guma leaving a rainy St Valéry at 22.30
The sleep deprivation was due to the trip South from St Valéry en Caux, around Cap Antifer, across the busy shipping lanes of the approaches to Le Havre, to Deauville. In the rain. In the dark. In cold late November, the night after a gale. For anyone in complete possession of his faculties such a trip would not be done without a pressing appointment to meet; even Tom Cunliffe would think twice. In this case we had the encounter with Monsieur Beauté and the crane. But aboard Guma this short passage – it took about ten hours – was really very enjoyable. No getting wet, no forays on deck to handle sails, an easy competence in her response to the gusty bits, plenty of good quality information on our position and those of the numerous other users of this waterway on this unappealing night. And she sailed nicely, Guma, despite her weedy bottom and the changeable wind.
Comfortable, safe, a nice sailing performance – what’s not to like? Oh yeah, the multiplicity of maintenance tasks that owning a 52 foot sailing boat d’une certaine age entails. Whatever. I’ve had a good night’s sleep since and await Mr Beauty’s final report with interest and a certain amount of the opposite of cognitive dissonance – cognitive harmony?
(1) A unicorn is a mythical beast with no interest in sailing – see ‘GUMA’ post.