A boat owner by any other name
  |  First Published: May 2014

Sometimes the only thing worse than not having a boat is actually having a boat.

I've realised this over the past two days as the search for a suitable vessel has wound up, and I have made the call finally. A new second hand beast will shortly reside in the garage. But I've realised that the buying is the easy part. It's the owning that's the real trick.

I really thought I was going well too. I'd had a look at several boats to the north and to the south. They were all pretty good, but not quite what I was after. I wanted that one I could take to Turkey, also fish in the Sandy Strait, and maybe take out onto the reef as well. That's a pretty specific boat, and after the last one didn’t quite measure up, I felt like chucking it in. But Stuffer stood by me, and said buying a boat was like buying a house; when you found the right one you would feel it.

I didn’t let on to him, but my trouble is that every boat feels like the right one, and I have to be very careful that I don't settle for what's in front of me. Like that little cuddy cab I checked out last week. Chucking a cast net form the back of that would be about as easy as something that's not very easy at all. And the old tinny that I looked over a week ago was over powered with a 90 four-stroke, but that motor has covered more sea miles than Flipper. Except that Flipper lived in a pool. Or did he. Or she. Or was that Skippy. Anyway, I managed to resist buying that one too. Made me feel very accomplished, and grown up. The Manta Ray was good too, with a T-Top that would let me come home dry, but the motor in this one was far too small. Like a V8 on a whipper snipper.

After all that careful work then, of course comes the killer. The 1970s glass boat. Old mate is a salesman from way back. Tells me doesn't really want to sell. Talks about everything but the boat. Chats about this that and the other. Then I walk out of his house and realise I've just bought his boat.

That list I had carried around with me for two months didn't even make it out of my shirt pocket. I didn't know whether it had a live tank, a stainless prop, or how many hours the motor had done. I wasn't sure whether the sounder worked. Later on I remembered the fuel gauge didn’t work, and that the trailer was unregistered.

I had to call him back to ask how we were going to get the boat and trailer out from where it was built in onto the canal on the other side of his house. Still working on that but I was happy to hear it had a spare wheel and a light board.

But here I am, wondering what else I missed. Are there two tyres on the trailer? Does it have any anchors? Does it slide off the trailer? Are there any life jackets? All those questions that I chased so hard on previous boats gone like a trouser cough out a Monaro window. And I remember why it is that I get so stressed when I own a boat.

Shortly after that, I remember not having a boat, and how that stresses me too. I think about not having to rely on Manboobs, or Skipper, or Stuffer if I want to take another unsuccessful trip out after some jack, or snapper, or cod. And I remember the really important issues that make life worth living. Like the freedom of the water. The spectacle of nature seen by so few; whales, dolphins, turtles, sea eagles, stingrays and all those things that make up a day on the water. And I remember that most important of all reasons to buy this particular boat. With it's streamlined hull, and good motor, there's a better than even chance this boat will go faster than Skipper's flat arsed punt. And that my friend, is all that really matters, so I'm happy again.

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