Idle hands are the devil’s playthings for the project-minded Capt. Bill.

Okay, so the impeller needs changing and so does that filter. Are such trifles onerous? Or are they actually therapeutic?

Some weeks ago, a big Florida dealership loaned me a boat to do a cruising story. Which, of course, was wonderful. Not only did I have a brand-new 30-some-footer to play around with for a couple of days but a spate of decent weather was predicted, the itinerary was free-form, a couple of close friends were coming along and the boat in question was the dealership’s latest and greatest: a circumstance that virtually guaranteed no mechanical, electrical, plumbing, sanitary or other issues would arise.

The Joy of Fixin Things

One oddball detail did obtrude, however. Due to the logistics and scheduling involved, I had to spend the first night on board all by myself, a rather unusual state of affairs for me but one I was sorta looking forward to.

The festivities began shortly after I’d pulled into a small, endearingly old marina in St. Petersburg, Florida, plugged my shore power cord in and hosed down the boat. Then, because I’d noticed a promising-looking little seafood restaurant just down the street, off I went to enjoy a great dinner and when I got back to the boat it was well after dark. Sounds okay so far, right?

But then things took a turn. Not long after I’d powered up the soft, mellifluous strains of the Ahn Trio on the Fusion stereo, pulled my Kindle out of the ol’ seabag and settled back on a foredeck lounge for a relaxing read, an unsettling realization hit. Shoot, I had zero interest in reading. And more to the point, when I really thought about it, I had zero interest in relaxing, listening to music or doing much of anything else either. Instead, I felt bored and gloomy.

Which was kinda strange, eh? I mean, here I was, on board a brand-new vessel that cost more than my house, with a cushy lounge cushion under my posterior, a refrigerator chockablock with beverages, “Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac” wafting through the ether and a whole pile of other goodies at my disposal, to say nothing of the millions of stars tumbling out overhead. And I felt bored? And gloomy?

Maybe loneliness was the problem, I theorized. Heck, everybody knows that friends—companions, sometimes even iffy ones—tend to liven things up, make life more interesting, more fun, whether on board or ashore. But the more I thought the situation over, the more I suspected that something else—something beyond simply being alone—was twanging my magic twanger.

At 11 o’clock or thereabouts, an interesting couple of questions bubbled up from the depths. Was my problem perhaps related to having nothing to do on this brand-new, absolutely-up-to-snuff watercraft? Was it related to having no tools on board, arrayed in multiple toolboxes? Was it related to having not a single thing to fix?

Despite the lateness of the hour, I decided to try a little experiment. Although there was no need for air-conditioning on this particular, super-cool evening, I resolved to turn the AC unit on nevertheless, but only after I’d tracked down the related sea strainer to make sure it was not obstructed with grass or gunk. While such a thing was unlikely under the circumstances, I’d say I was subconsciously hopeful.

“Hmmmm,” I soon hummed from the bilge at midnight, with my Mini Maglite focused on the AC’s raw-water inlet valve. While its lever felt a little sticky, I eventually managed to close it. Then I unscrewed the strainer’s lid and discovered (quite joyfully) a bit of sea grass balled up inside.

“Ah ha,” I enthused as I extracted the grass with great satisfaction and held it up like a trophy in the Mini Mag’s beam. “Cool!”

Obviously, the results of my little experiment were conclusive. I’d just fixed something (sort of) and now I no longer felt bored. Or gloomy. In fact, I felt absolutely freakin’ fabulous! 

This article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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