The Scrump and Me

At Sea — April 2005
By Capt. Bill Pike

The Scrump and Me
Deciding whether to sell a beloved old boat is a solemn, reflective business.

Illustration: Joseph Daniel Fiedler
 More of this Feature

• Part 1: The Scrump and Me
• Part 2: The Scrump and Me continued

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Yesterday afternoon I went for a ride—a ride that was kinda sad really, at least by comparison with the ones I usually take on the Scrumpy Vixen. After all, the Scrump’s just a boat, consisting of various fiberglass moldings and other parts crafted of aluminum, stainless steel, and mahogany. She’s got the same sort of powerplant many other boats have and roughly the same equipage. Take her throwable life ring, the one my friend Pete gave me for my 50th birthday eight years ago. It came from the same big-name retailer most other red-blooded American boaters patronize. Her VHF came from the same place, and so did her life jackets, which in curmudgeonly fashion I refuse to this day to call personal flotation devices no matter how seriously the Coast Guard takes this goofy designation.

But then again, the Scrump’s my boat. And although she’s been my boat for several years now, I’ve just recently started thinking about selling her to buy a larger vessel, a trawler perhaps, jam-packed with modern gewgaws and capable of cruising Florida’s coasts and the nearby waters of the Bahamas.

Thinking this way makes me feel like a traitor, of course—or more accurately, like a treacherous, no-account, unfaithful, backstabbing bilge rat! I mean, the Scrump and I are tight and always have been. We’ve shared more adventures, misadventures, and memorable moments over the years than you can shake a $35 anodized-aluminum boat­hook at. And now, for the sake of a shower stall, cold-plate refrigeration, propane-powered breakfasts, and maybe a little TV at the end of the day, I’m gonna give her the ol’ heave ho?

It’s unhealthy, I know, but the issue occupies my mind constantly these days and assails me with special poignancy when I’m constrained to do anything nuts and boltsy with the essentially nuts-and-boltsy Scrump, like running an errand for a friend, as I did yesterday. While the ride that ensued was far from a valedictory one, it certainly had a feeling of farewell to it, most likely because of the way the memories ganged up like gray clouds on the horizon as we zoomed across the Gulf of Mexico towards Dog Island.

There was the time, for example, several Januarys ago, when the Scrump and I rescued two guys from the freezing, tea-colored wastes of Ochlockonee Bay, the huge north Florida estuary my wife B.J. and I happily dwell upon these days. The guys were oldsters. Real oldsters. With no life jackets and a sunken boat, fighting to stay afloat against the weight of their duck-hunting clothes and hip boots. Had I not caught sight of one of them through the windows of Mullet Mansion that morn­ing flailing his arms—and confirmed the sighting with my binoculars—both men would have drowned. Heck, had the Scrump’s engine not cranked that morning, as it did on the third try after being shut down for three solid weeks of frigid weather, they’d have drowned as well. I never looked at the Scrump the same way after that. She’s a lifesaver, literally.

Next page > Part 2: And there were all the quieter, less dramatic times the Scrump and I joined forces... > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the March 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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