by Shawn Payment

The Perfect Boat

There are dozens of books, articles, websites and salespersons who are all more than willing to tell you how to determine what is the perfect boat for you. Some of them actually offer excellent advice to potential boat owners. The question is:

“Does anybody really listen to them?”

I’m guessing “Probably Not”. The underlying problem is that boats, by their very nature, are a love affair. In the same way that a new relationship offers the promise of satisfying exciting carnal desires, the thought of boat ownership arouses instantaneous fantasies of wild adventure on the open sea. Ask a potential owner what they would do if they only had a boat and they’ll immediately describe exotic trips to otherwise inaccessible locales, languorous days spent on white beaches or glassy ponds listening to the relaxing ripples of water upon hull.

But the realities of boat ownership are another matter. Once the check is written and ownership assumed, the ugly specter of “responsibility” comes calling. It doesn’t take very long for the newly smitten lover to question the sanity of their decision and to don the haggard, worried look of a shotgun groom on the morning after a Las Vegas wedding.

So you’ve got a boat. Now you have to decide where you are going to keep it. Just like a new spouse, family or puppy, your newest love is going to insist upon having a cozy home.

For a larger boat, annual slip fees can quickly equal or exceed the total cost of a moderately priced craft. But even the smallest boats require space. If you’re lucky enough to own property, then perhaps there’s convenient corner of the yard that can be used for storage. But outside storage means you’ll need a boat cover and cheap plastic tarps quickly prove their own ineffectiveness. Next thing you know, you’re writing a not insignificant check for a boat cover. Those without a convenient home storage option will similarly be writing more checks for monthly storage fees.

But that’s only the beginning. Boats have needs. Your new love is going to want things. First there’s the public acknowledgements of your relationship like titles, registrations and insurance. Then comes the more mundane daily living expenses like, paint, varnish, gas, sails, lines, hardware, electronics, clothes, food, etc. Face the fact that you’ll end up purchasing all these items eventually if you’re going to make the relationship work.

Even once you put all the financial nonsense behind you, you’re next faced with the challenge of finding time to be with your boat. Look back at your calendar over the last month. How many days did you have free for boating? One? Two? If it’s more than that, then you’re probably under the age of 18, retired or independently wealthy. Sadly, all too many of us don’t fall into one of those categories.

And during those all too brief windows of time that you could go boating, where exactly could you have gone? White beaches in exotic locales often prove disappointingly far away. Time and distance constraints will quickly establish your most common boating venue, be it the nearest, river, lake, ocean or cow pond.

So what’s to be learned from all this relationship advice? It all seems simple enough…

  1. Make a reasonable estimate of how much you are willing to spend on this irrational, irresistible mistress called “boating” on a monthly basis for an indefinite period of time. Subtract 10%-25% from that figure to account for the inevitable emotional and financial highs and lows that every relationship entails.
  2. Identify a “love nest” that can adequately accommodate the needs of your new love. Don’t forget to include any rental costs into your financial calculations above. And remember that the closer and more convenient the location, the better. Long distance relationships never work out.
  3. Step back for a moment and decide how much time you’ll actually get to spend with your love. Keep in mind that the two of you probably won’t be going to those fantasy destinations. More likely, it will be a trip back to the same ol’ place that you’ve been before.

Once you’ve made a careful, thoughtful and rational analysis of all the above factors, you can confidently walk down to the local marina or click onto any boat plans website and….

Holy cow! Will you look at the lines on that baby! Just think of the places that we could go! And wouldn’t she and I look great together? I can tell she likes me. Look how she shines whenever I’m around. I just know that this is the one. We’re going to be together forever and ever. How did I ever manage to live without her? Sigh…

Shawn Payment is from San Diego, California and is currently in the throws of a torrid love affair with a older boat that admittedly has “had a bit of work”. He’s hoping to take her out on the town soon but even then it will probably be just to some of those old, familiar places. See: www.geocities.com/bluejay2718.