Wacko for schmicko
  |  First Published: June 2014

As anyone who has owned or owns a boat knows, they are a constant drain on finances. A lot of the problem relates to getting things ‘schmicko’.

What do I mean by schmicko? Well that changes with each boat owner and that's where the trouble starts. What is ideal for one is a constant nightmare for another. And it's why chandlery shops love seeing boat owners come through the door.

I was reminded of this recently when Stuffer took a look at my new boat. My new second-hand boat. He didn’t even try to lie. Just came straight out with it. Can't remember what the actual comment was but it basically amounted to, “You paid how much for that?” Now that's a little insulting given that you judge a Dudd by the length of his boat. Also by what is in his boat, how it is organised, how practical it is, and how many of the things that are in it actually work.

I don’t have a very good track record in this last department. Many of the things that I install in my boat, sounders, chart plotters, lights, motors tend to stop functioning within a few hours or being stuck in there. Basically these are items that don't react well to a rough trip over some short sharp chop, to exposure to some heavy rain or hail or lead sinkers (don't ask), or by sudden deceleration after vessel being driven into sandbank/rock/jetty/charter boat/Pommers. It becomes like an electronic graveyard, with the scattered bones of old kit lying around the floor.

Unfortunately, it's not often helped by me putting on the tool belt and trying to fix things. A successful fixing session with me is when the number of things that work at the end of my working bee is equal to or more than the number of things that worked at the beginning of my working bee. Perhaps they should be called not-working bees. Part of the problem is because I'm impatient. Instead of trying to fix something with the correct tool, I tend to adopt the Dudd's favourite saying – ‘I’ll sort it out later – when fixing things in the boat. For example, I will try to unscrew a Phillips head with a hammer rather than stand up, hit my head on the garage roof, fall off the trailer mudguard, stumble over the metal toolbox on the floor, get the screwdriver, fall back into the boat, squash something important on the floor of the boat, etc…

Another problem is that I forget where things are supposed to go. Is that wire supposed to go onto the black or onto the red? Let's try red (smell of burning). Okay so we'll try black (more burning). So that's not a wire, it's something else. What else can it be? I'm going inside now. Despite me trying this approach many times over the years, I've found that going inside and ‘having a rest’ doesn’t make me more likely to remember where something is meant to go. Strangely enough, or not, it means when I get back I forget where I left the hammer/screwdriver/drill bits until, having forgot to put any crocs on, I find them with my feet. Then I usually find the garage roof again.

Anyone would think that after the above menu of disasters, I would hate boats. But I don't. I love planning how to fit them out, where I'm going to add bits and pieces and then enjoying the result. Too bad I can't call it a hobby. I think a hobby is something that you do for enjoyment, like model trains. Having a boat is a commitment. Or, as my wife might put it, a curse. But she should look on the positive side of me owning a boat. No, not going out for trips with me. She has more brains than that. More like that I'm spending much less money on my fishing gear now that I own a boat. Now that's a positive!

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