The other day, on my way back from Haiti, I had the surreal experience in Ft. Lauderdale of looking across the channel at one of the most expensive pleasure boats in the world. It was Seven Seas, Steven Spielberg’s mega-yacht, which he reportedly purchased for $200 million. He doesn’t keep it to himself, though — if you’d like, you can rent it for $1.3 million a week.
The photo of the big boat, I took on my way home, but the bottom one was much more emblematic of my week and a half abroad. I don’t know what the name of that boat was — let’s call it Haitian Queen. I don’t know how much it cost, either. Let’s say $200 U.S. The Queen’s captain was offering rides to the island behind him — easily reached with a 10-minute swim, which is why I didn’t take the boat. I’m not sure what else he used it for, but I think he had a fishing net in it.
The question that comes to my mind is, “What stories do these two boats tell?” Seven Seas screams wealth and pleasure and success — the tale of her owner. Haitian Queen looks small and lonely. It says, “Struggle” in the same flat tone in which many people in Haiti told me of their situations. It might speak to her captains situation, too.
I find myself in awe of Seven Seas, but drawn to Haitian Queen’s simplicity, its bright colors, and the stories represented in it. I was doing my best to enjoy a day off from reporting when I shot this photo, so I didn’t take time to flag down the HQ’s captain (that would have required bothering someone else to translate). But I kind of wish I had, just to find out who he was and why he rowed that boat around the beach and what his life was like and was it getting better in any way at all? Those would have been questions worth asking. Those would have been stories worth digging up.
Apologies to Steven Spielberg, whose story I’m sure is full of interesting twists and turns. But I bet he’d have to scour Seven Seas bow to stern to find tales half as interesting as Haitian Queen’s.