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Ahoy, Machiavelli!

At Sea — June 2005
By Capt. Bill Pike


Ahoy, Machiavelli!
The manipulative matrimonial machinations of buying a new boat.
   
 

Illustration: Joseph Daniel Fiedler
 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Ahoy, Machiavelli!
• Part 2: Ahoy, Machiavelli! continued


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• At Sea Index

Let’s get real. If you’re happily married to a land-lovin’ lady and you happen to be a male American boat nut like me, you don’t just haul off and unilaterally buy a new vessel, especially if she (the vessel) is a comparatively large and complex cruising machine of the sort you’ve lusted after since you were knee-high to a bollard. There’s a process involved, a delicate process with overtones of manipulation that bear no small resemblance to the wiles of Machiavelli. Consider, by way of example, the process of upsizing my own personal maritime arrangements.

My wife, B.J.: “Oh Bill, I’m so happy with our new house!”

Me (aglow with the pride of ownership): “Yep, she’s a beauty, isn’t she, Beej.”

Living on Ochlockonee Bay in the wilds of northern Florida had grown tiresome for my wife. She was fed up with the one-hour, one-way commute to her job in Tallahassee. Moreover, she’d been craving the urban environment for quite some time, with its access to cultural events, mercantile establishments, medical facilities, movies, a wide variety of restaurants, and her favorite French chocolatier, Pierre Vivier.

I was different. While I’d also been feeling a little isolated and cabin-feverish at Mullet Mansion over recent months, I was still into living on the water, hard by a wildlife sanctuary, with a boat and a boathouse at my immediate disposal. Nevertheless, with some misgivings on my part, we did it—we sold the place for a small fortune and bought a house in town, a good hour’s drive from the coast.

My wife: “So now…what are we going to do with the Scrumpy Vixen?”

Me (with a speculative expression, as if the idea had just dawned on me): “Well, whataya think about selling her, maybe buying a bigger boat that we can spend weekends on?”
As readers of “At Sea” know, I’d begun toying with the notion of selling the Scrumpy Vixen and buying a larger vessel well before my wife and I’d actually put Mullet Mansion on the market (see “The Scrump and Me,” April 2005). In fact, I’d already started fantasizing about the boat I was specifially shooting for, a so-called Fast Trawler from Sabreline. But there were two good reasons why I hadn’t broached the subject until we were nicely settled in our new house.

First up was the unsettling chaos of moving. It’s never a good idea to hit one’s spouse with a daring proposal when everything the two of you own is either in the hands of truck-drivin’ strangers or secreted away in hundreds of unlabeled cardboard boxes haphazardly stacked to the ceiling.

Second was the biggie—the one with the real serious Machiavellian overtones. Almost as soon as I’d agreed to sell Mullet Mansion, a genius realization had hit me: I was now in possession of a bargaining chip of supreme, albeit almost unmentionable, usefulness. The gist was simple. Once I’d thoroughly proven my willingness to compromise by actually moving to the big city, I felt justified in expecting a compromise from my wife on a new boat.

My wife: “Sell the Scrump?”

Me (slyly): “Well, it’s something for us to think about anyway.”

Next page > Part 2: Reasonable, shmeasonable! I’ve been tracking the perfect Sabreline for three months now. > Page 1, 2

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

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