Ok, so I bought a boat. My wife thought it was a great idea and knowing full well the consequences of not acknowledging her brilliance, I agreed. I, on my daily "Real Job Search" where I usually just end up pouring back a few with some buddies while I crow incessently about my own brilliant decision to drop the microphone and pick up a pen, ran into K. at Harpoon Harry's. K. is an old Conch gentleman (and I apply that title loosely) and an old friend. K. had a boat for sale, as he always does, and it would be perfect for me and my dysfunctional family, he says. Plenty of room, he says. Stop paying that outrageous rent, he says. My friend also knows my troubled past with things that float. He apparently believes that I am a masochist.
Don't get me wrong, I love boats. I love sailing. I adore the salt spray in my face and the flump I hear when the wind fills my sails. I even love picking up the groceries in my skiff and the satisfying ka-thump when I run over a manatee. Alright, I made that last part up just to see if you were paying attention, my friends. I would never run over a manatee. Unless the bastard had it coming...
Anyway, it is not that I don't love boats. Boats do not like me. It would be safe to say that boats hate me. Despise me. Wish me harm.
Oh, you want an example? How's this...I bought a 40' Endurance sailboat once. Beautiful lines, teak interior, mahogany trim and hatches, just a big sexy bitch of a boat, right? WRONG. The through-hull fittings decided to burst on the first night at anchor! Soooooo, at 5am, after drinking myself into a celebratory coma the night before, I awake to not only the Coast Guard blasting "Cheeseburger in Paradise" (the worst Buffett song ever) from thier PA systems but to 3 feet of water in my forward berth. Of course my bilge pump chose exactly that moment to mutiny and I quit counting after 120 five-gallon buckets of brackish water were hand scooped overboard. My son slept through the whole thing.
You want more? How about the time my anchorlines were accidentaly cut by a neighbors' prop and my boat ends up crashing repeatedly into the Coast Guard Base seawall? Or when my first "real" sailing attempt ended with me nearly crashing into 2 other boats and running hard aground on Fleming Key? EVERY time I get into a dinghy, the engine refuses to start. The Coasties pull me over my flares are ALWAYS 2 weeks out of date. My neighbors are always assholes and I always have to drive past them just to go visit the "quality" riff-raff that I choose to associate with. Fires, electrical problems that inevitably lead to fires, misguided attempt to repair said electrical problems that lead to more fires, and then there is the issue of using the fire extinguisher to put out the fire and then getting a ticket from FWC the very same day for having an empty fire extinguisher!
Nothing ever works. The head stinks, the lights are dim if they work at all, the beer cooler leaks, no internet pornography, bilge pumps are always useless, inflatable skiffs deflate, unsinkable skiffs sink. Sometimes I wonder what the hell I was smoking on the day I first decided that living on a leaky boat in shark infested waters sounded like a good plan for the future. Oh, it sounds romantic. All Travis Mcgee; macho, suntanned scotch and water, solving distressed damsels dilemmas and all that. Poppycock!(I had to use poppycock because my editor said that bullshit was too strong a word.)(my editor is my lovely wife, Sam, who does not know that I just used bullshit anyway, so don't tell her!)This boating thing is hard work!
So when K. Told me he had a houseboat for sale, I instinctively ran screaming down the street where I live with intentions of returning only after the crazy talk had ended. My Sam drug me right back to the conversation, kicking and screaming. It wasn't much of a conversation. I was buying a boat and that was that. Somewhere, the devil smiled.
I have never owned a houseboat. Sailboats, powerboats, canoes, a kayak, yes. Never a houseboat. I even built my own pontoon river boat once using 3/4 inch plywood, a bunch of 55 gallon drums, and a 25hp Mercury outboard. After many, many...many Cuervo induced river runs down the Tennessee near my hometown, She was finally decommissioned by crashing her into the Wilson Dam and Powerplant. I now own a houseboat in Key West. 43 rusty feet of free rent love! Leaky, mistreated, and liable to break free from her anchors at any moment but she is mine. The rest of this article is going to be dedicated to the bad decisions we are all capable of making when women and whiskey are involved...
To be continued...after I finish this bottle of Jameson and find my life jacket.