Why are we boat people? Because we like good times, adventure and getting away from it all. We’re perpetually motivated by the next long weekend or summer cruise, like Clark W. Griswold looking out the kitchen window on Christmas Eve dreaming about his idealized backyard pool. Imagine that favorite island you look forward to visiting all year. Ahhhh, yes. A place where the real world melts away. A place of peace, relaxation and …
Now imagine the drunk guy who unplugged your shore power two years ago at some marina because he was “testing his” while your wife was alone on the boat. You don’t ever need to see that guy again.
But as you pull into that favorite anchorage three days into your dream cruise you find that, indeed, the twain have met. That guy is here. The wind has been sucked out of your twin turbo-diesel sails. What was to be the best trip of the year has now instantly become a stiff-upper-lipped letdown. That guy is drunk at 10 a.m. and his taste in music is terrible.
That guy can appear anywhere. Do you know that guy? Worse yet, are you that guy? Consider the following scenarios.
Running Into That Guy (#RITG): New Girlfriend
A friend of mine had been dating someone for awhile, so it came time for him to take the new girlfriend on a long weekend aboard. Over a beer the next weekend he sighed when I asked him how it all played out. “Bill, I’ll be damned if we didn’t tie up next to some 65-foot Sunseeker owned by a friend of her ex. And the ex was there! Six feet away from my cockpit, his arm wrapped around some bimbo with fake fenders. All night he was drinking, bloviating and making comments about the relative size of my ... bow pulpit.” Don’t be that guy.
My seven-year-old son was the only eyewitness to the collision. A nervous motoryacht skipper used too much throttle leaving the fuel dock, and the evidence was obvious in the form of 8 feet of bent bow rail and a cracked pulpit on the 40-footer next to us. This was not our home port, and we had to tell our neighbor what happened to his boat when he returned later that day. But with no adult onlookers, would the respective boat owners and the harbormaster trust a kid who said “he did it!” Did I really want my little boy involved in this?
Fast forward a year. Now the nervous skipper is back, but this time he’s tied up across from my own slip in my home port for an undetermined stay. He recognizes my son and teaches him a few new phrases before I can get a word in edgewise. Don’t be that guy.
But What If That Guy Is A Kid?
Years ago my family was cruising and spent a weekend at a rather hoity-toity yacht club. Our convertible was stern-to, but the 52-foot Hatteras convertible right behind us was bow-in. We never saw adults venture outside the entire weekend, but two boys around ages six and eight were using their half tower like a jungle gym. All day Curious George and his younger brother would jump from the hardtop, bounce off the flybridge sofa and slide down the face of the flybridge and salon. We waited for one of them to fall in the water or crack his head open, but before that could happen the younger boy stood on the bow pulpit, pulled his shorts down to his knees and urinated all over the dock.
Last year we ran into the same boat—and the same boys—hundreds of miles away in another state. George looks like he’s 13 now, and he’s graduated from openly urinating on the dock to launching the Sea-Doo at full song from the swim platform to the nearest no-wake buoy, still with no parents in sight.
Use your imagination, I’m all out of space. Don’t be that guy!