The Night of the Devil Page 2

Spectator - September 2002 - Part 2

Spectator — September 2002

By Tom Fexas

The Night of the Devil
Part 2: Down the Tubes
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I tiptoe past the line of wooly heads hanging over the fence and make my way to the cottage. I knock on the door, and Mrs. Client opens it. The interior is dimly lit, and there's soft music playing in the background. "Where is Nathan?" I ask. She says he is upstairs in bed, passed out in a drunken stupor as usual. Well, I think, men are usually not too interested in the details of the interior anyhow, so we sit down. I start to pull some drawings out of my briefcase. But before I do, she says that she is not really interested in the plans just now, as she slides closer to me on the sofa. I jump up, finally realizing exactly what is going on here. With a lame excuse like, "I need to have the hotel laundry clean and starch my skivvies for my trip back to Florida tomorrow" or some such foolishness, I rapidly make for the door. Although at the time I was single and carefree, fooling around with clients' wives was not on my list of favorite things to do. I trot down the lane--this time never hesitating at the row of devil heads--jump into my car, and peel out on the gravel.

Everything goes downhill from there. That fall I learn that my clients are getting a divorce, and the boat project begins to evaporate. The partially completed boat is at a small yard that my client hung around at as a boy and is well behind schedule. We never went out for bids because he had always dreamed of building a boat at this yard. Although I'd never heard of this particular yard until I was told about it, my wonderful client sees fit to sue me for selecting an unqualified boatbuilder! (This guy's big-town law firm is so huge that the whole damn upper half of the firm's letterhead is attorneys' names--there must be 250 there!) I hire a small-town guy who works by himself. What chance do I have? As it turns out, more than I thought. Although my sleazebag ex-client greases the jury, the judge refuses to admit much of his evidence, and the case is dismissed after a couple of hours.

The boat was in Florida waters for a number of years, and every time I saw her, all I could think of were those damned devil heads hanging over the fence. Such is life for the hard-working yacht designer. In addition to drawing pretty pictures of boats, engineering the structure, and overseeing construction, he must also deal with life's little foibles. It is a wonderful profession that I would recommend to any masochist.   

Tom Fexas is a marine engineer and a designer of powerboats. His Web site is

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This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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