Outdoors

Boats, the gifts that keep on taking

Boat owners should prepare to remove more than just their vessels from the water, like money from the wallets to cover the hidden costs that accompany their new water toy. (Jesse Tinsley)
Boat owners should prepare to remove more than just their vessels from the water, like money from the wallets to cover the hidden costs that accompany their new water toy. (Jesse Tinsley)

Taxes, fees, fuel just some of things that lighten wallets

My Dad gave me a boat for Father’s Day. I gave him a gift certificate to Golden Corral.  

I’d like to think it’s the thought that counts, not the gift, but I suspect this is something people say to make themselves feel better after giving cheap, last-minute gifts in desperation.  While appreciative of my father’s generosity, I can’t help but look at my new boat with trepidation and dread.

I’ve owned a boat before and know what it entails.  Boat ownership is like owning a bottomless hole into which you casually throw costly resources. My propensity to pinch pennies naturally conflicts with this concept, as boats typically demand more money than most ex-wives. Aside from the regulatory taxes and state fees, boats require fuel, safety equipment and a variety of accoutrements to satisfy a sportsman’s needs. They have hidden costs familiar only to those who have experienced boat ownership firsthand, including the most precious of commodities – time. Time to tow, launch, fish and play. Time to leave the lake in time to get home in time to do chores necessary to avoid time in the doghouse – a ridiculous waste of anyone’s time.

Like teenagers, or math, boats can also be troublesome. It’s said that the happiest day of a boat owner’s life is the day they buy it, followed by the day they sell it.  I’ve experienced such joy myself. I once owned a beautiful, 18-footer while residing in Puerto Rico, but I quickly learned she was better suited for the calm waters of Loon Lake than those of the Caribbean.  A poor design allowed chop exceeding six inches to splash easily over the gunwales, where it then collected inside the cabin’s battery compartment.  On our maiden voyage together, as I stood in tepid brine, I recalled a seemingly unimportant lesson my seventh-grade science teacher passed about saltwater and conduction. An unpleasant current snaked through the flooded boat, melting the hair on my legs as it surged with pulsing jolts into my neck, similar to those induced from my dog’s shock collar (don’t ask how I know this). I acknowledged Professor Petersen’s tutorial with a few choice words before I could kill the power and row the three miles to shore. The boat and I parted ways soon after.

With the new boat’s arrival, storage also became a concern. Because our home’s three-car garage already housed the requisite three vehicles, plus a tractor, deep-freezer, tools, Christmas/Halloween/Easter bins and more, alternate digs were obviously needed. Starting with a trip to Costco, I pointed out an inexpensive, canvas structure we could erect in one afternoon, but my wife thought it looked tacky and recommended otherwise. When I proposed building a shelter similar to one I constructed to stack firewood under, her eyes lifted and rolled effortlessly into her skull. I understood that as another “no,” but remain impressed by her ability to perform that particular feat. I thought maybe I could keep it at Dad’s, but he nixed that idea. “No room,” he said. “But there are other options.”

Sure enough, the hole I feared I’d be throwing money into got much bigger. After the excavators left, I wrestled with the logic of spending 50 times the boat’s value for a pole building to store a vessel that had yet to touch the water. Some might argue this as a smart move – a lot of things can go in a shop besides. But until the boat showed, I didn’t have a need for extra storage. I was just fine without.

Nonetheless, there comes a time to move on. The current plan is to launch the boat next weekend. But I still have to round up tanks, rods and lures, find my license and Discover Pass. I’ll have to snatch some worms, too, restring the rods, untangle the reels, and check the trailer lights. I’ll need to pick up vests for the kids, oars for the boat, and schedule with the accountant to delay my retirement plans.

I guess there is something to be said for last-minute gifts. At least nothing a couple of cheap Tums couldn’t fix.


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Rich Landers

Rich Landers

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