While your boat’s hauled out, don’t just sit around at home wolfing Cheetos and watching TV:
Go check on her!

Not so long ago, I was kicked back—well, to be more accurate, I was darn near laying down—in my favorite living room chair, burning through yet another bag of Cheetos when a cold shiver of suspicion went up my spine. Not that I’d wanna take much credit for this. Even to somebody with only half his marbles, the area circumscribing my immediate vicinity would have suggested trouble—big, bad trouble.

On virtually every flat surface, empty junk food bags and empty cans of pure, mountain spring water were strewn with unconscious vacancy. Alongside the starboard armrest, a giant pile of books, from Moby Dick to Serenity for Dummies, languished in a sad aura of overly distracted abandonment. Out in the dim beyond, a cable news program flickered with three talking heads all talking, a Breaking News banner announcing doomsday and a crawl crawling along the bottom announcing similar festivities. And finally, at the very top of this tragic tableau, a hat sat perched upon my head which, although seasonally appropriate, undoubtedly conveyed the likely presence of the mild (or maybe not so mild) claustrophobic insanity colloquially known as cabin fever.

01-dec2019-uncharted

“Something’s going on here,” I mumbled, looking slyly around, “and it ain’t good.”

A few moments ticked by. Then a few more. Then, in a flash, the truth hit me like a giant bucket of oily bilge water. My boat, the Betty Jane II, was on the hard, as they say, and had been for weeks. And because of this unnatural situation (occasioned by the need for a bottom job and some other stuff), I was slowly but surely flipping out. The walls were closing in. I was going down (glug, glug, glug), maybe for the third time.

Of course, I struggled to fight back, but how? How could I save myself? And, because I am a compassionate soul at heart, how could I parenthetically save all the other poor devils—my brothers and sisters—who are also temporarily consigned to boatlessness at this otherwise cheery time of year, either by dint of seasonal haulouts or bottom jobs or serious repairs or whatever? I broke open a fresh bag of Cheetos and cranked the TV’s volume into the stratosphere so I could better consider such questions.

“That’s it,” shouted my wife, entering the room. I turned. She stood there, an emissary from reality, her voice rising authoritatively above the TV’s roar, her manner indicative of a person who’s finally come to terms with a bad, ongoing situation and is intent on doing something about it. “That’s it—I’ve had it. You need to go check on the boat. You need to go right now!”

The long drive over was instructive. Sure, for a while there, I remained fixated on the latest shocks and revulsions from the three talking heads via my car’s Sirius satellite radio. But eventually I began tapering off. First came a switch to NPR, then Pandora. Then came a decrease in volume. Then finally, came relative, blissful silence! And junk food went more or less the same way. Incredibly, toward the end of the trip, I realized I’d cut the Cheetos off at half-bag and left both packages of Sugar Babies unopened and untouched. Could it be? Could the act of merely visiting the Betty Jane II revolutionize my mood? My life? Even though Betty was actually on the hard, far from her element, high and dry?

When I arrived at the boatyard, it was late afternoon. I parked in the usual spot and noted, with satisfaction, that there was no one around to take the focus off my reunion. Betty was hidden in the shadows behind the old harbormaster’s office, amid a host of other boats, so getting to her took some doing. But when I finally caught sight of the old girl? Well, the beauty of her new bottom paint almost took my breath away. “Ah, yes,” I said as an inexplicable calm suffused my being. Ah, yes, indeed.

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

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