Karen and I sip wine in the salon. The sun has completely disappeared beyond the horizon and the only light is coming from the overhead LED. Connor’s fast asleep. We look around the boat and talk about future projects and upgrades. We revisit happy memories from the summer and talk about our short- and long-term goals. It’s funny how the more alcohol you consume the more daring your goals become. Sure, we could do the Great Loop, but is it even long enough!?
As the wine shrinks and our ambitions grow, the boat sits still. Like, Seakeeper 1,000 still. I look out the starboard window and see a neighbor shining a flashlight and walking his dog. It’s at this point that I realize: Our neighbors must think we’ve lost our minds as we try to hold onto one last bit of the boating season from the Bertram ... in our driveway.
There were a couple reasons for converting our driveway into a boatyard. One was that even with a professional boat hauler, it offered a nice cost savings. But even more so, tackling all those grand ambitious plans on a boat just a few feet from my garage seemed a whole lot easier, especially given my propensity for forgetting tools. Somewhere in Jamestown, Rhode Island, there’s a hardware store that’s sold me four sets of identical screw drivers. Man, were they sad to see me move.
The more imperative project for the winter is repairing an engine mount that suffered from years (decades?) of water damage and rot. Thankfully, I was able to entice my dad to help with the project; it’s not too tough to get him to Connecticut from New York. I just call my mom and ask if she wants to hang out with Connor. Check … mate.
The truth is that my dad loves a good project; he’s always jumped at the chance to help me on my boats. I like to think I paid for his services in advance with years of waxing the family Egg Harbor, but I’m sure his yard bill surpassed mine years ago.
On a recent visit, we worked together to change the oil, winterize the engines, remove the rotted section of the engine mount and cover the boat with a tarp (more on that in a minute).
The more I learn about boats, the more I learn how much I don’t know. There are days when I start to feel like a somebody in the marine industry. At boat shows I rub shoulders with presidents and CEOs. I can get exclusive access to a new model and even have a boat shut down to the public so we can shoot a video aboard.
Nothing can deflate your swagger faster than your dad telling you that you’re turning the filter the wrong way. “It’s lefty loosie, son.” Damn. So much for being a somebody. Together we removed what turned out to be a not completely rotted engine mount. It definitely needed to be repaired, but a hearty oak center made the project, well, a project.
After those chores, it was time to tuck the boat in for a long winter’s nap. I tried in vain to secure a custom-fitted boat cover for the Bertram but failed. Remember, Mr. Somebody over here. Instead, I decided to use the one tarp long enough from Home Depot, a bright blue 50-footer.
Unfurling this thing was an absolute joke. You, your boat, your house and your ego never feel as small as when there is a 50-by-30 blue tarp on your front lawn. We wrestled the tarp over the boat and immediately became the talk of the neighborhood. “You couldn’t find a white or brown tarp? It’s very … blue,” remarked one neighbor.
Say what you will—and trust me, people have said plenty—but I love having the boat in my driveway. It fuels my already strong imagination. I can’t pick up the mail without seeing it (you could probably see this thing from space) and thinking of a future project or trip. I like to think about the day that Connor is old enough to join me in our very own boatyard and teach him all the things my dad tried to teach me as a kid. I’ll no doubt crack a smile when I remind him, “It’s lefty loosie, son.”