A Man With a Plan

Lead Line — November 2003
By Richard Thiel

A Man With a Plan
“I sold my stocks and bonds and bought the boat I always wanted,” he told me.
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One thing I learned right away when I got involved with boats is that you meet really interesting people in waterfront watering holes. Take Boz. I met him about 25 years ago at the bar at Stella Maris, a resort at the north end of Long Island in the Bahamas that is about as far away from anyplace as you can get. It was, to say the least, an odd encounter. I’d come there on a boat with a woman I was in love with, and he’d come there on a boat alone to forget one. We hit it off immediately—I suppose because we were two lost souls who really didn’t know what we were going to do with the rest of our lives. Deep into that night, and a few more after, we concocted schemes that would make us rich or happy, or maybe even both. When I left Stella Maris five days later, Boz was still working his way through myriad plans over tumblers of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. We promised each other we’d keep in touch, and we did.

Over the years Boz got married, had two kids, threw off his rebel-without-a-cause lifestyle, and went to work for an ad agency. I took up writing, got divorced, and moved to New York City. The focus of our periodic meetings during this time changed from the best circumnavigation routes and whether one could make millions raising chinchillas to figuring out how to pay for college, fund a 401(K), and pick the best place to retire. Boz sold his boat but planned to buy another as soon as events would allow and resume life afloat.

Things went fine for Boz until about five years ago, when his life hit the inevitable speed bump. His wife left him, taking his kids, considerably more than half his assets, and his carefully laid boat plan. We met in Miami shortly thereafter, and depression was written all over his face. But as the evening wore on, with the help of Captain Morgan, he became determined to recover, and by last call he was downright giddy with optimism. Boz had a plan to renew his life, reconstitute his finances, and, in no more than five years, have the boat of his dreams.

He worked like a madman and husbanded every dollar, and by the turn of the millennium, boat and retirement were in sight. Alas, he’d invested heavily in dot-coms, and when that bubble burst, so did his future. Boz was nearly back to square one.

So I was stunned when he called in July to tell me he’d bought a boat and was moving aboard. Had he hit the lottery? Been named someone’s beneficiary? Hooked up with a rich widow? No, his finances were still debilitated, and retirement was but a distant goal. So how had he managed to buy the boat?

“I just did it,” he told me. “I took a good look at myself and realized that if I waited until the right time, it might never come. I was mortgaging the present for some distant future. So I sold my stocks and bonds and bought the boat I always wanted. And I’ve never been happier.”

“But what about retirement—your future?” I asked.

“Richard, who knows what the future is?” he explained. “You can’t count on anything—especially today. I’m gonna have my dream, and I’ll make up the rest as I go along.”

I’m not sure if Boz is brave or stupid, but I do know he’s happy—happier than I’ve ever seen him. And I have to admit that despite the fact that my 401(K) is bigger than his, I’m jealous.

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

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