Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Expensive hobbies

Spending time living in posh tourist districts, I am more-than-usually aware of the segment of our population that spends money, in abundance, for fun. Each day when I walk or bike to the Cirque tent, I pass by boats offering dinner cruises, restaurants with elegant prix-fixe meals, artsy gift shops with endless amounts of decorative items to lighten your wallet. In a Montreal Christmas shop I watched a young family laughing as they dropped $300 on Christmas ornaments. And Quebec is a city where, if you were a multi-millionaire trying to impress a date, you could easily fill the days with carriage rides and wine tastings and high teas at luxury hotels.

Lately, I've been contemplating the boats. It's hard not to - this group, for example, is parked directly across from the backstage area at the chapiteau.
I know nothing about boats. Wait, change that - I know one thing about boats, which is that they're wickedly expensive. Beyond that, it's a puzzle to me. Sailboat, motorboat, yacht? How do people drive these things? More importantly, WHY do people drive these things?

I've been watching the boat people. They tend to be on their boats in small groups, five or six people at a time. They don't look particularly snooty, or better-dressed, than anyone else. They do often have a sort of "king of the world!" glee about them in their boats, and they are often pouring each other glass after glass of wine.

The kids and I got a good look at a lot of boat people this evening, as we were stuck at the drawbridge. It was open for 15 minutes or so to allow all of the evening-boat-party people out of the harbor. We saw one woman with a tiny dog zipped inside her coat. One boat roared into the open water blasting Guns N Roses. (so some of them apparently have good sound systems).

Who are these people, and why do they spend tens of thousands of dollars (hundreds of thousands?) for these luxurious little moving boxes? Not to mention the time and hassle of owning, storing, and using the boat. I just don't get it.

I had these same kinds of thoughts last week watching the hot air balloons, and then, yesterday morning, paragliders. They look so beautiful! But my thoughts then wander to how much time and money were probably spent for those few minutes of being airborne. Really?

Before I get too high-and-mighty here, I have to take a look at myself and my own hobbies. OK, so I don't have a tens-of-thousands-of-dollars hobby, but are all of my little ones (running, biking, yoga, reading, blogging) really that much different? Everything costs money. Some are just in smaller increments at a time. I wonder if those boat people, out on the water with the wind rushing through their hair, are experiencing a profound joy. Maybe they know something I don't.
(other than how to operate a boat, that is.)


  1. I know a variety of boat people and yes, it's expensive, time-consuming and they all get some kind of kick out of it. There are the pure wind-powered only; the WASP clubby crowd, the Bass-fisherman-with-beer, the built-it-myself; the men escaping from wives and the ones who love the sound of a big engine. Like you it puzzles me but I'm with you on the self examination piece...I try not to but I do judge how money is spent. I would not be surprised if someone accused me of being a little glass house-ish.

  2. Paragliding takes a while to learn, but its absolutely exhilarating while you are airborn (and WAY less painful than trapeze). plus you can pack it up in a backpack and take it with you anywhere. Once you buy your glider (like 5k all in all) thats all you need. in the long run probably way less than i spend on trapeze lessons, renting practice space, and the gas money to and from Brattleboro

  3. OK - boats are a luxurious hobby - but they are fun! So is paragliding, hot air balloons etc... How about fly fishing - I've heard that can even get pretty pricey. All that circus equipment has got to cost a pretty penny too, right? I realize, of course, it is your livlihood - not a hobby - but what about all your PSCA clientele?? I don't know. This is a very interesting blog. Andre and I always wonder at how people spend their money - but we sure have spent ours seeing alot of the world - we could have seen less and gone on a yacht, I suppose... xoox