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In our beautiful, small coastal city we have a downtown marina popular with visiting cruisers and fishermen, a restaurant and bar overlooking said marina which serves as the de facto town square, and the Sparkling Waters Yacht Club two blocks up the coastline. Standing between the yacht club and the marina restaurant is an eight-story condo building the locals refer to as the “high-rise.” This neighborhood is a wonderful place to be in the summer.

You can imagine in this four-block portion of the downtown waterfront area that plenty of people who live in the high-rise also own boats in the marina, eat at the restaurant and socialize at the yacht club. The ingredients for a good time are all assembled in tidy order.

We keep our convertible By Design in the marina. One sunny Sunday morning, my wife hopped out of the cockpit to take the dog for his morning constitutional. Along the way she met a fellow cruising gal with a dog of her own. Visiting from another port, the lady’s little pooch had a tastefully adorned collar with some Far Away Yacht Club’s logo embroidered all over it. Seeing this, my wife decided that bespoke dog collars would be a great addition to SWYC’s own apparel: the logoed hats, shirts and foul-weather gear we sell to members. So, she snapped a picture for later reference.

A few days later I happened to find myself bellied up to the aforementioned marina bar admiring my boat from afar and swapping fish stories with a friend who lives in the high-rise. This friend, Dave, also happens to own the business that supplies our club’s apparel.

01-dog-collar

Seeing Dave reminded me of the story about the little dog from the Far Away Yacht Club, so I said to him, “My wife thinks we should offer dog collars at our yacht club, in addition to the shirts and hats, etc.” I was Commodore of the club at that time, so I took it upon myself to get this done.

Now Dave is normally eager to fulfill a customer’s needs, especially for friends. But at this moment, with perhaps a dozen local patrons sprinkled around the horseshoe-shaped bar and his wife at his side, he seemed unusually reticent. Almost standoffish.

But I continued, undaunted: “Dave, I’m sure there are 30 members of the yacht club who would buy dog collars. Many of them are friends of yours. I mean, your neighbors Ron and Shirley, the folks who live above you, Bob and Jen …” I rattled off a half-dozen more names of his friends and neighbors who are members.

I mentioned that we keep our inventory of swag in the basement of the club building, and he could just drop off the collars there, too. “Under the iron spiral staircase, right next to the iron pole.”

He became even more reticent. His brows launched upward. His eyes widened.

“Here, I’ll show you!” I said. I quickly texted my wife, and in a moment my phone buzzed with the photo of the cute pup with the Far Away Yacht Club collar on.

I said, “Hey Dave, I have a picture!” And if a guy could run backwards in a bar stool like he’s chasing down a pop fly in deep center field with only his body language, Dave sure did.

So, I stuck my phone in his face.

Five minutes later, I’m unable to see my boat from afar anymore on account of the belly laughing which is producing tears. Even the grizzled bartender, who’s seen a lot over 40 years of slinging drinks, has lost his cool and can’t collect himself enough to answer the bar phone when it rings.

Rewind five minutes: So I stuck my phone in his face, right?

And with the most visible relief possible, the soft-spoken Dave looks at the picture and exclaims at the top of his voice, and with the most sincere honesty a person can emote for everyone to hear: “Ohhh! The collar’s ON A DOG!”

This article originally appeared in the August 2022 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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