A few weekends ago, I was elbow deep in Betty Jane's annual oil-change (a day-long extravaganza that usually entails, besides the oil deal, a total swap-out of coolant and filters) when I heard something strange and seemingly far off.
A bagpipe? Playing The Marine's Hymn?
Not my favorite instrument: the bagpipe, by the way. And not my favorite piece of music either. I served in the U.S. Army as an infantryman back in the late 60s and, among us dusty ground-pounders at the time, there existed just a little antipathy towards the Halls-of-Montezuma boys. We called 'em jarheads mostly. It was not meant to be a complimentary designation.
Anyway, the sound got more intense. So eventually, I stopped working the plunger of the pump that was sloooooowwwwwwwly extracting old Delo SAE 40-weight from the bottom of Betty's 135-hp Ford Super Lehman diesel, crawled out of the engine room on my hands and knees, stood up with primordial deliberation, and stumbled to the doorway in Betty's back bulkhead.
Holy smokes! Or, more accurately, Holy Father!
An entourage was coming down the dock that was unlike any other I'd ever seen in a marina. The bagpiper was in the lead, with my good buddy John Tipton (the harbormaster of our marina) just a few feet astern and directly abeam of a Catholic priest who seemed to be, at least to my rather unschooled eyes, decked out like the Pope.
"It's the blessing of the fleet," yelled a little girl helpfully. Her explanation prompted me to bolt back into Betty's saloon, grab my camera to immortalize the occasion, and dash out into the cockpit.
And then it happened. A first-time event for both Betty and I. The priest dispensed a few sprinkles of holy water towards us rather forcefully and smiled broadly. I felt a few drops on my arms. Betty must o' felt some on her taffrail, maybe even her sweetly varnished transom boards.
"Thanks, Father," I grinned and then added as the bagpiper continued off down the dock blowing the Loch Tay Boat Song or something, "Mind if I take your picture?"
He obliged, obviously. But, you know, I'm not double sure exactly how effective the spritz of holy water has been so far. I mean, first off, Betty's macerator pump seized up mysteriously the very day of the blessing. And second, my wife tells me that, although two full weeks have passed since I got hit with the holy water, my character defects are still chuggin' right along totally undiminished.
However, Power & Motoryacht's associate managing editor Chris White recently gave me cause for hope.
"Well, Bill" he said on the phone, "you shouldn't ever have to change your oil again."
"Why's that Chris," I asked.
"Holy petroleum," he replied. "That's what you've got in your engine now."
Dang, I hope he's right!