Folks with big boats have a reputation for being extremely successful and are often models of aspiration. Some might appear just a little bit snobbish. Remember the Howell’s on the old TV show Gilligans Island? Most real boaters aren’t like that at all. At least they don’t mean to be. When I’ve pointed this pretentious perception out to the boaters I know, they either nod in agreement or sigh in exasperation.
What they know and you don’t, is that their boat is making them rich. Most yachtsmen will grudgingly admit that they were once poor miserable nobodies like you and I. They were either completely boatless, or owned such a small craft such as canoe or kayak, that they wouldn’t even consider themselves boaters. But at some point in their lives, they decide to get a bigger boat. Maybe they have a young family and thought that weekends on the water would provide wonderful memories between those sixty hour weeks of hard work. Maybe they saw boating as a distraction, something they could do to commune with nature in a nautical way. So that’s what they did, they bought a boat.
Let’s take my imaginary friend, Wilfred Skipperput, as an example. He jumped into boating life with the purchase of a 38 foot, 1976 Uniflite that he purchased for only one hundred and six dollars. Since its price was so attractive, it would fit nicely into Wilfred Skipperput’s budget, which was based on the salary of an elementary school teacher, one of which he was.
He had talked to a lot of people before he bought his first maritime boat, most tried to talk him out of it.
“That’s an after-75’ Uniflite hull,” they cautioned, “its gonna have blisters!”
Wilfred didn’t know anything about boats or blisters, or Uniflite. After all, he was an elementary school teacher.
What’s more, Wilfred didn’t take his wife’s father’s advice, who had been a sea captain for 57 years. He told Wilfred to get the boat surveyed. A survey is a detailed inspection of the entire boat, which hopefully will illuminate the potential buyer to the vessels’ true value and sea-worthiness. Wilfred figured that if they found something really wrong, he couldn’t afford to have it repaired, and ultimately, he wouldn’t be able to keep it. Since he was an educated man, he figured that by not getting the survey he saved himself the price of costly repairs, a haul-out and the cost of a survey. Unlike his wife’s father, with 57 years of boating experience, Wilfred and his wife Winifred, with no boating experience, chose to ignore his advice. Did I mention they were both school teachers?
Well, it wasn’t long before Wilfred found himself in a whole lot of nautical difficulty. His boat was sinking. A thru-hull fitting had collapsed. Apparently, a blister on the hull had been ignored for so long that it weakened the fitting around the thru-hull intake seacock. To make matters worse, his bilge pump was only pumping out 1.5 gallons of water per minute, while the leak was sucking in 4 gallons of water per minute. He noticed that is crankcase was also leaking oil. This made the water in his bilge take on what he perceived to be a nice chocolatey hue. The Coast Guard disagreed.
The harbormaster told him he had to take his boat out of the marina immediately because he let his insurance lapse (a savings of over a thousand dollars per year, he had originally thought). Additionally, his marine toilet was backing up and it turns out hadn’t been pumped or cleaned in 26 years. When he tried to start the engine to take the boat out to anchor, it failed to start because the bilge pump had drained the battery.
Wilfred and his wife, fearing the worse, decided to do what most people who love boating do. They quit teaching and became investment bankers, together making more than three million dollars a year, just so they could keep their $106 Uniflite in floating condition. The moral of the story is this; if you want to get rich, buy a boat and watch what happens. – Gary Paul Bryant