Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Blue Guitar - A Quiz

Today I have a quiz for you - with a difference.

When we were at Bitter End YC earlier this month, this boat was anchored there.



The Blue Guitar was also at BEYC when we were there last year.

In both years we were told by other guests that it was Eric Clapton's boat. But we never saw Eric Clapton. The only non-crew member we saw from the boat was a lady about our age who came over in a launch to BEYC a few times, apparently to walk on the trails there.



And here's the quiz part. It's all about how you decide what information you can trust on the Internet. I was reading a book a few months ago that said that one of the most important skills we can teach children today is to know how to verify sources, especially on the Internet. We are almost at the point where you can find any fact you want on the Internet. But can you trust everything you find there? And what do you do if there is conflicting information?



You will find many sources on the Internet which support the fact that the Blue Guitar is Eric Clapton's boat. You will also find other sources which say that Eric's boat is actually this boat, the motor yacht Va Bene.


You will find at least one source that claims Eric Clapton owns both the Va Bene and the Blue Guitar.

And you will find at least one source that names other people as the owners of the Blue Guitar.



So what's going on?  Should I believe what I was told - that the Blue Guitar is Eric Clapton's boat?

Have a dig around on the Interwebs yourself and tell me what you think. But I don't just want a yes or no answer. I want to understand your reasoning. Why should I believe some things I find on the Internet about the Blue Guitar and disbelieve others?


31 comments:

Bursledon Blogger said...

Blue Guitar was in Lymington a couple of year ago - could have been longer, there was a big guy aboard with a shaggy grey beard - certainly didn't look like Eric Clapton or the crew, but then again I might not recognise him in a crowd

Tillerman said...

Interesting. I don't think Mr. Clapton has sported a "shaggy" beard in recent years. Although he does seem to go through various stages of trying different styled of facial hear, generally favoring a neatly trimmed beard or designer stubble.

/Pam said...

Well, I had a shot at it but couldn't devote much time to it. My conclusion was that Clapton owns Va Bene only. Mainly because of a CNN article and interview where they gave all sorts of details about the boat, Clapton's decision to buy it, the need to borrow money for first time, and then they visited the yacht. CNN seems a reliable source so I'd say he definitely owns that one (or did at one time). Also, I found something that said he makes it available for charter so I would assume that even if you see the boat, it doesn't mean he's on it.

As to Blue Guitar, it seems you stumbled on a rumor that has been running for years. Those who say he owns it, do so without any real proof. However, alleged first hand accounts say, he chartered it once for two weeks, and people who allegedly worked on it say, it definitely isn't owned by him. No one seems to cite first hand knowledge of ownership. So multiple allegations of first hand knowledge that are in agreement trump unsubstantiated rumors.

Numerous sites say Blue Guitar is owned by Lawrence Small and James Benensen. UK boat registrations and vessel locators don't provide any information. Oddly, they list Blue Guitar but don't show any movements or recent ports. Whereas, the multiple boats named Va Bene have recent movement. Also odd is that NPR reports that Lawrence Small resigned his post from the Smithsonian over allegations of excessive spending of tax dollars on a lavish lifestyle for his home and travel. I saw stuff about a million dollar housing allowance and chartered jets but nothing about a boat. Although I did see that Small has a passion for flamenco guitar. And I did see a UK company with a generic name (that doesn't seem to really exist) as the owner on a UK boat registry. I couldn't find a definitive source for ownership but more fingers were pointing away from Clapton than towards.

So, it would seem that I trust official accounting sites (registrations, vessel locators), some news sources and then play the odds when reviewing other Internet sources and pay attention to the pieces that fit with the reliable sources.

Tillerman said...

Well done /Pam. I tend to agree with your conclusions.

All the reports linking Clapton and the Blue Guitar seem to be from ordinary folk posting on forums etc. with no citing of any authoritative source. It's hard to be sure but they do smell like one of those Internet rumors that are so good that they just keep feeding on themselves.

Whereas, as you say, there are several reports from reliable journalistic sources linking Clapton and Va Bene, including authentic sounding details of his input into the design of modifications to the boat.

And while I can't find an ultimate authentic source to verify that James Benenson and Lawrence Small own Blue Guitar, I can't imagine why anyone would make up a story like that or bother to gossip about it. They are apparently fairly successful American businessmen but not exactly household names.

So it's not black and white. Just shades of gray. But isn't that exactly how we have to weigh information we find on the Internet these days? Who's the source? Do I know them? Is this story something that could be interesting enough to become an urban legend? Or boring enough that probably nobody would make it up?

Anybody else have other perspectives on this?

Chris Partridge said...

Who is Eric Clapton?

Tillerman said...

And if the "Eric Clapton owns the Blue Guitar" story really is a false rumor, how did it start?

bonnie said...

I did see one reference to Clapton having once owned Blue Guitar, but having traded up to Va Bene.

I don't know if I'd put much of a bet down on that, although it would explain the rumor, but as far as the current situation? I was leaning towards Va Bene being Eric Clapton's current yacht, and not Blue Guitar. Pam did a much more thorough job than I did, I think I spent about five minutes on it between reports, but I saw a link to the CNN piece she mentions with clear references to Clapton owning Va Bene. That looked pretty legit, and then everywhere you saw Blue Guitar referred to as Clapton's yacht (forums a-flutter over a possible rock star in their anchorage) you would always have a couple of people saying "Calm down, that's not Mr. Clapton's boat".

torrid said...

This is one of the few places I can come on the internet and take what I read at face value. Well, this and InfoWars.com.

Tillerman said...

Don't be so trustful torrid. Another theme in the book I was reading was that every source is biased in some way. Maybe I am biased to trust scientists over snake oil merchants. Or to distrust any statements that begin with "I'm not a lawyer but…." But these are still biases.

Tillerman said...

Yes bonnie. I saw those forums where somebody would say it's not Clapton's yacht. That's one of the things that made me a bit skeptical and to start digging a bit deeper. But the myth (if it is a myth) does seem to have taken hold as word of mouth among people interested in boats and guitars, and on the Internet. In some ways it's a powerful meme that is almost perfect to go viral - why wouldn't Eric have a boat with this name?

Anonymous said...

I am on vacation in St Thoams USVI and I took a day boat tour over to the BVI. During the trip we saw Blue Guitar and one of the crew said "That is Eric Clapton's boat". So charter boat crews are one source of the rumor. It was fun to watch everyone run over to look and take pictures of the boat. Really the crew could have pointed to any big boat and said that is some famous person's boat and everyone would have believed them.

Tillerman said...

Interesting Anonymous 7:04 PM, December 18, 2014.

One of the things I didn't mention in my posts is that many luxury yacht owners try to keep their identities secret (for understandable security and privacy reasons) so that it is almost impossible to get the crews of the yachts to reveal the identities of the owners of the boats on which they work. They are sworn to secrecy. And I think it's actually bad form to ask them who their employer is. Of course gossiping or even telling tall tales about other boats' owners is apparently fair game.

Anyway, it sounds as if the St Thomas boat tour operators are partly responsible for perpetuating the Blue Guitar myth.

Anonymous said...

who really cares who's boat it is? anyone??

Grammar and Punctuation Teacher said...

Anonymous, I think you meant, "Who really cares whose boat it is? Anyone?"

The caps key can be found on the side of your keyboard. One really good use of it is for letters at the start of sentences.

"Who's" means "who is."
"Whose" is the word you should use when needing a word to define who owns something.

You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

Blue Guitar currently anchored on the north shore of Vieques, PR. Nice boat whomever owns it.

5:05 pm, May 3, 2015

Anonymous said...

July 13,2015 Blue Guitar in Newport,RI

Anonymous said...

July 17. Spotted in Edgartown harbor.

Rick B said...

July 21 Gloucester harbor, and Doyle Bramhall II is playing the Bull Run in Shirley MA. Maybe it's his!

Rick B said...

July 21, Gloucester Harbor MA. And Doyle Bramhall II is playing in the area, maybe he got it from Clapton!

Micahontas said...

August 2, 2015 Blue Guitar yacht
seen passing the bow of the Vinalhaven Maine ferry in Rockland, Maine.



Anonymous said...

Anchored in Belfast, ME today. Pretty yacht, no matter who owns it.

Anonymous said...

Saw Blue Guitar leave Belfast this morning, motoring east toward Northeast Harbor, Maine. Apparently she's available for charter.

It's nice to think of Eric having once owned her, even if it isn't true.

Anonymous said...

...saw The Blue Guitar this morning some 200+ miles south of the last sighting posted here..moored in the same spot as last year at this time...can't reveal the exact location out of respect for Eric's privacy...(btw, the St. John's sightings are probably accurate, as Eric owns a home on St. Bart's)...

Anonymous said...

It is in Wellfleet, MA at the moment (as it is each August). Usually it is here the first week in August, so this year is a bit later. It has always been said that this is Clapton's boat, but I have never heard of anyone actually seeing him.

Anonymous said...

The Blue Guitar Is in Connecticut, was in Newport, RI. He is on the boat and I did see him.

Anonymous said...

Passed Blue Guitar the morning of September 6th, 2015. I was headed up the Mystic River to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, and she was headed downriver. She may have been berthed at Mystic Seaport, as it is a nice, picturesque, and quiet, alternative to more commercial spots.

Anonymous said...

I know the man that works on Clapton's yacht. I will ask him, while he is still here, what the name of Eric's boat is and see what name come up! He is actually leaving in a few weeks to go to Spain for that purpose - to get Clapton's boat ready to sail.

Dennis Mankin said...

About 16 years ago around 1999 and 2000 I saw Eric numerous times on his boat Blue Guitar anchored out in the basin in Annapolis. I was also a boat owner at the time and anchored next to him one night when he played his guitar on the back deck for a hour or so. I also said hi to him as he left the boat one day at City dock and the outfit he wore he wore the next day to play a concert in NY Central Park with Cheryl Crow. Saw on his boat in Oxford, MD and other ports. He use to spend a lot of time on the boat. If it was his, I don't know, but he was on it a LOT for two or three years.

Bob Gabele said...

Bob Gabele here (BoomSheet.com) We sailed into St. Michaels on the Chesapeake's Eastern shore around 2000. Blue Guitar was anchored . Curious, I anchored our Shannon 38 next to her. We saw Clapton often on deck. This prior to knowing whose boat it was. Upon entering town we verified that it was he who was on board. He cruises up the Bay periodically (at least at that time) to visit his favorite guitar maker who liives nearby . We remained on the hook next to Blue Guitar for the weekend. He was on deck a lot either playing guitar or just relaxing.

Capt'n Dave said...

We anchored in next to Blue Guitar off Saba Rock in the North Sound of Virgin Gorda. Not sure of the year but it was about 2004 give or take. We saw Eric taking the dinghy into the resort hotel. I can't understand why it's so difficult for some to believe a stately yacht home ported in London called Blue Guitar would be owned by an English Blues guitarist. As for Va Bene, the is an article on its refurbishment that includes ample references to E.C. involvement complete with photos. That article can be found from the wiki article on Va Bene in the references section.

Anonymous said...

Clapton says in his autobiography that he bought his boat in 2005.

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