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Uncharted Waters: The Great Miami Ripoff

Boaters beware—there are ravening wolves amongst us!
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At the Miami boat show, the unthinkable happens: Someone steals Capt. Bill Pike's shoes! A whodunnit is set in motion.

Man, was it raining. I mean, hey, it was a veritable deluge, hammering February’s Miami boat show. And as I sloshed along in my slicker suit, looking for boats Power & Motoryacht should test over the upcoming months, a likely prospect hove into view. She was a New Englander, sporting an LOA just shy of 60 feet and stretching her length along one of the docks paralleling the Venetian Causeway.

“Guess I’ll stop by,” I told myself. And, in a trice, I did.

The marketing person was happy to see me. We’ve known each other for years. And he immediately suggested we go aboard his latest and greatest so he could fill me in on her particularities, in spite of the fact that she was jammin’ with potential customers.

“Sure, let’s go,” I replied, just as an enormous thunderclap clapped ominously overhead.


About ten pairs of deck shoes were arrayed under the flybridge overhang when we arrived at the salon door and, being a respectful soul, I removed mine before entering. My deck shoes were sodden, after all, as were everybody else’s. So, off the little jewels came—my cherished Sperry Top-Siders (of the Billfish variety), each looking quite new and spiffy but still proffering a comfy, broken-in ride.

The marketeer and I spent an hour touring the boat’s interior, during which time all the potential customers on board managed to leave, apparently enticed by a break in the rain. At tour’s end, we chatted routinely as we made our way across the salon, but when I opened the salon door to hit the trail myself, what I saw (or rather did not see) made my eyes bug out.

“Hey,” I exclaimed, “my shoes are gone!”

“No, Bill,” the marketeer was quick to hypothesize. “There they are. On the dock. Somebody’s just moved them.”

I eyeballed the abysmal wrecks the guy was pointing at. Was he nuts? Cripes, the dang things were not even deck shoes. They were more like loafers—wet, black moldering loafers, seemingly dredged up from the bottom of Biscayne Bay. I padded ashore and nudged one with my big toe. These babies were definitely NOT mine.

Now let me say that I am not a paranoid person. Oh sure, a wave of suspicion will now and again wash through the ol’ neurons, but for the most part I cruise a smooth sea. However, as I clomped out of the show in my grotesquely oversized, slimy, despicable new foot gear, the abnormality of the situation got me to thinking. Who the heck steals boat shoes at a boat show? And leaves moldy loafers behind? I mean, really!

Of course, a reasonable explanation soon bubbled up. Earlier that day, about noon, I’d been standing in line to buy a hot dog when this gent came up and began showering me with compliments concerning the stuff I write. I deeply appreciated this, by the way. Truth always hits home with us humble folk.

But then, as the afternoon wore on, that same guy—a nattily dressed middle-ager in Bermuda shorts and a sportfishing shirt—began making the odd appearance in my peripheral vision. I’d be glancing around and there he’d be, gnawing on a Snickers in the shade of a boat-show booth or topping off at the big blue water dispenser.

Finally, it became obvious. The dang guy was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And for one reason or another, he’d succumbed to the dark side of hero worship. And now, in the throes of his obsession, he’d stolen my freakin’ deck shoes. Probably to display on a plaque over his fireplace!

Luckily, I had a chance to run the whole concept past the Bangladeshi cab driver who took me to the nearest West Marine to buy new shoes. The driver listened intently. Then, once he’d stopped laughing, he gave me a knowing look.

“Well, mister,” he said, “I am not sure what you say. But there is the wolf out there at the boat show. That’s for sure and, man, maybe he like your shoes.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.