The Mistress Known as Boat

Owning a boat is like having a mistress- flashy and expensive. Not that I know anything about having a mistress. Other than what I’ve heard. But I have owned a boat…or two.

And like a mistress, the boat takes up a lot of our time. And gives us tremendous pleasure. Pleasure not to be found in something more practical. Like a wife. I meant a car. My mistake.

To many men, boats are like the women in their lives. They love them, pamper them, dote on them and take great pride in them. And more often than not, they give their boat a name. Go to any marina and you will see that on the rump, I mean stern, of every boat there is a name, and port of call.

There are all sorts of names. Whatever strikes the owners fancy. Like racehorse names. There is a lot to be learned about the boat owner from the name he gives his mistress. I mean boat. Boats ranging in size from dinghies to mega yachts have names. Like a member of the family.

Now not everyone gives their boat a name. I had two boats, and neither had an official name. They were sailboats and depending on the strength of the wind they might have names like lightning or breezy, or in calmer air names that I probably shouldn’t repeat here, or anywhere else for that matter. Sailors will know what I mean.

In this case, where I had not given the boat a name, the manufacturer was kind enough to provide one for me. All boats have a manufacture’s name on them somewhere. Like a Chevrolet. And many have a model name. Impala. Or a boat may be a member of a class. With sailboats there are racing classes, each with a name.

The two boats I had were small one design sailing classes. Snipe and Moth. Both small flying things. The Snipe I actually sailed. The Moth I restored.

The Moth came to me as part of a weird sort of trade. I got the boat for free. Then I restored it. When I sold it, I split the money with the former owner. I put a lot into the restoration, and got so much more out of it.

The fiberglass hull needed to be repaired in several places. The whole thing needed new paint. Five coats of maritime hull paint. Then the deck needed to be repaired and painted. Five coats of paint again. The wooden tiller and boom needed to be sanded and stained. Metal parts, brass, aluminum and chrome, all needed to be cleaned and polished. And finally the rigging and lines need to be replaced. The hardest part was getting the length of the forestay correct. So the mast would stand up properly. When it was done, it was beautiful. I took a lot of pictures. But I never put it on the water. Instead, I sold it. A guy from Atlanta bought it and hauled it off to another lake. I said goodbye and never expected to see her again.

A couple of months later I was talking to a friend at work about sailing and she told me her husband had just bought a new boat. A small sailer. A Moth. I looked at her and asked her what color it was. When she described it I knew it was my old boat. It was something I had painted inside the cockpit that gave it away. One day I drove by her house and sure enough, there it was in the back yard. Glad to know she’s in good hands.

My friend found another job and I didn’t see her again for a long time. I knew in the back of my mind that she and her husband had the Moth, but I never thought to ask about it. Then one day I was driving around town, looking at apartment complexes with my daughter, when damn, that looks like the Moth! I doubled back and pulled up alongside a building with a small sailboat in the back yard. Right colors. Right look. And there, the splash rail! The same red I had painted it. Totally out of whack with the rest of the blue and buff color scheme!! My Moth had found another new home. And I had found my Moth.

So what’s the deal here? Is the boat following me? Am I following the boat? Are we forever linked? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that I’m more aware of a familiar face when I see it. Who knows where she’ll go from here. I just hope she is well loved.

I wanted to stop and talk to the new owner. To tell them that I was the one who did the restoration of their beloved boat. But I didn’t. I just smiled and drove off. Knowing that one day our paths would cross again…

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?


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