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Boats Rnt Us

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

When Robin and I mention to friends, relatives and the guy cleaning the pool that we’ve bought another boat, they all say the same thing:

“The two best days you have with the boat is the day you buy it and the day you sell it.”

This never dissuades us, mostly because trying and buying is so much fun.

Our current boat adventure (our third) began last January when we bought a 27’ Dauntless (Whaler). The fact that we were able to buy the boat in January and take delivery in January was considered a minor miracle since THERE ARE NO BOATS. Anywhere. New boats were (and are) being sold with delivery expected in one to two years. Used boats are harder to find than used cars. People who have been paying the marina to dock and maintain a boat they’ve used twice in the past five years have suddenly decided to hang onto the thing, “just in case”.

New boats are an exercise in “hurry up and wait…and wait.” Our boat was missing a central cushion where you’d most like to sit. We tried to be flexible but the thrill of sitting on the hard plastic seats and especially, the exposed snap caps was a little too bracing. Apparently, employees with the requisite cushion sewing skills found other jobs, like every third employed person out there. Six months later, while we were on Cape Cod, the cushion arrived. In another minor miracle, no one purloined the cushion to complete another cushionless boat before we returned to Sarasota.

It took four months to extract a full boat sun protection cover from the local canvas monopoly. We only got it because Robin personally visited the workshop every week or so to schmooze the owner (and sole employee). He took pity on us and delivered the cover about three days before his two month back surgery vacation. He was too busy to handle the fore and aft sun shades and Isinglass helm protection screen. I hadn’t heard of Isinglass since the theme song for the musical Oklahoma! By the time we get the shades and screen, Oklahoma! Will be selling out on Broadway again.

Luckily, we were able to get a berth for the boat. Every marina from Tampa to Naples and points south is full. We are able to rack the boat at the dealer’s marina. In theory, this works well since you can use a phone app to have the guys trundle the boat from the rack to the launching dock at the departure time you choose. I say in theory because everyone in Sarasota wants to use their boat at the same time. And guys able to drive the lifter without dropping your boat in the water from thirty feet in the air are in short supply. So, again, hurry up and wait.

Over the summer, the marina made some service improvements and started construction on even more boat racks. After some extensive searching they were able to find several qualified lift drivers. At our marina, qualified means having a wooly beard. This automatically enters them in the bushy beard contest being waged by everyone at the dock including the service guy (who better be your best friend), the Captain (your second best friend) and all the guys cleaning, scrubbing, towing and sweeping. No metrosexuals need apply.

When we returned to Sarasota in October, we resolved to use the boat at least once a week. Unfortunately, resolve does not always work with boats. We arrived for our first trip to find the boat at the dock, ready to go. With dead batteries. Apparently you have to charge them after a six month layoff. Next week, batteries charged, engines won’t turn over. After extensive research, service found that the sensor that keeps the engines from starting when the dive door is open was defective. Thankfully, Whaler had one in stock and UPS was able to deliver it—not at all certain in the current supply channel snafus.

So, today, big adventure. Sunny skies, blue water, 75 degrees. We get the boat, run up Sarasota Bay to Anna Maria Island and back, pull into the marina to discover that at the last second, we’ve managed to get a loose stone crab pot line wrapped around the prop shaft on one of the engines.

There’s a reason we called this boat Rough Draft.

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