Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Joys of Boat Ownership


I remember the advice I was given when I started talking about buying a boat. “Never buy a boat when you can borrow one”. Then when I finally bought one I got the advice “Never loan your boat out”. Both sayings are true and go along with “ If you meet someone who says that their boat is great and never gives them trouble, it’s probably for sale“.

The reality is, like a pampered woman, boats are high maintenance, always wanting something and never satisfied. Gas, oil, starters, coils, carburetors, foots, batteries and props are just a few of the things your boat is going to expect from you on a regular basis. You can’t just rub it on the side and say “good girl” before you turn the key like an old Chevrolet and expect it to crank. Oh no, that would be an insult. You must throw cash at it and as much as you can spare. And be careful what you say around your boat because it can hear and has feelings too. I made that mistake last year before I put mine on the trailer for the last time. I remember saying how much trouble it was and that it was slow which it apparently heard and just before I turned it off, it spit the piston rings out the exhaust pipe.

Well, last week I finished putting a new piston and rings in and on it’s first trip out, the thermostat stuck and blew all the head gaskets which doesn’t surprise me because the piston repair only cost $200. My boat acknowledges no less than $1000 in yearly offerings and being the head gaskets will only set me back $100, I can expect more tantrums from the old girl in the near future. I thought about just stuffing money down in the hull but I know she won’t accept that because there is no thought involved in doing it and she is all about thought. She always runs better after a repair that I bled on or spent an unusually large amount of time and frustration doing. I also think my boat likes it when I take it to someone else to be repaired. I guess it would be the same difference if you did a manicure on your wife as opposed to her going to a nice shop and having some well dressed stranger do it.

I’m sure the manicurist would be more gentle and patient because they are being paid and they probably use less painful methods in completing the task than I would (Dremmel tool and palm sander). It’s also kinda like cheating but without the affair.

My boat loves Jeff at Extreme Watercraft. He is to boats (Skis) as I am to old Chevrolets. He just rubs it on the side and says “good girl” and it fires right up! I think my boat only runs good for me because of the guilt it has over its sinful love for Jeff. I’m sure the blown head gaskets was my boats way of telling me it wanted Jeff to put the piston in.

I thought about an idle threat like telling the boat if it breaks one more time, I’m going to scrap it. But I know that will only work until it finds an opportunity to really get me like breaking down on the river between 48 and Fosters bridges where it is secluded and the faint melody of dueling Banjos are playing in the distance.

And while we are on the subject, why are boat motors so expensive? One guy told me it was the technology we were paying for. What technology? It’s pistons, rods and bearings like all the other motors that have been around for over a hundred years. And sure, they can rev to infinity but they only do that so they will tear up faster and need repair. I can buy over ten car engines, each with more horsepower and proven reliability to one of those Darth Vader helmet outboards. A car engine in a boat looks and sounds good where a boat engine on a car would look like R2 D2 got his hands stuck in the trunk lid.

All that being said, the lure of the open water and the natural calming effect that spending the day in nature has is well worth the stress and aggravation that owning a boat can and often does levy on most of us boat captains. All I ask is that if you are riding up the Tallapoosa and see a guy drifting toward the bank on a old Polaris where a shirtless, bearded mountain man wearing overalls and carrying a fiddle and a shotgun is waiting. Please, please help him!! It’s probably me. But if I can’t be saved, kill the boat!!

When not entertaining Lake Wedowee Life readers with his wit and wisdom, Charley is a co-owner of Norton’s Flooring with his brother, Tom. The company was started in 1976 by his mother and father. Norton’s Flooring product are in countless homes on Lake Wedowee and throughout the county.

Story by Charley Norton


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