The Universal Notebook: Power crazy
Recently I experienced one of those fits of acquisitive mania I used to get quite often when I was a kid. It seems there was always something I just had to have and I couldn’t rest until I had acquired it – pool table, BB gun, black onyx ring, Pendleton jacket, madras shirt, motor scooter, etc. This hasn’t happened to me for decades now, but for several weeks I was obsessed with buying a powerboat.
Despite being born and brought up in coastal Maine, I have never fully experienced the fun and freedom of being on the water. My father was a merchant marine captain and the last thing he wanted to do when he got home from sea was to set sail again. He was licensed to skipper any ship on any sea, but we never had a boat of any kind.
Up at the lake, we have an assortment of canoes and kayaks, but it occurred to me late this summer that it might be nice to have a small motorboat both for fishing and ferrying the grandchildren around. I was thinking maybe an aluminum Lunt 14 with a 15-horsepower motor.
My only real reservation was that there are now six or seven pontoon boats, speedboats and fishing boats moored off our beach. We are fortunate that the lake is blessedly free of obnoxious jet skis, water-skiers and cigarette boats, but still I was reluctant to add more motorized clutter to the shore.
I think the reason I got interested in owning a powerboat is that I spent more time this summer out on Casco Bay than I ever have before. My brother Paul and my buddy Roland both have powerboats, and my old friend Don has a small sailboat with a tiny motor, and I found I really like just cruising aimlessly out around the islands.
So last week after weeks of searching for something suitable, I stumbled on an old Boston Whaler Sport woody with a 40-horsepower Johnson. Boat, motor and rusty trailer could be mine for a mere $2,100. It seemed perfect. I could keep it at the lake and trailer it down to the Royal River here in Yarmouth if I ever became salty enough to take on Casco Bay.
I was on the verge of pulling the trigger on the old Whaler, when I decided to run the idea past my family. All three daughters voted against it, as did my brother-in-law in Tucson.
“I really like that we only have people-powered boats,” wrote daughter Nora, an environmental educator.
“Chris and Jackson do just fine fishing out the canoe,” wrote my artist daughter Hannah on behalf of her husband and son.
“Personally, I just like sitting on the beach with an occasional jump in the water,” wrote Warren. “The loons appreciate it, too,”
That flurry of e-mails brought me back to my senses, saved me $2,100, and likely hours of aggravation hauling and maintaining an aging hulk.
“Good choice on the boat,” texted daughter Tess, also an environmental educator.
The family’s objections also saved me from becoming a power-crazy guy like one of our neighbors at the lake. We go to the lake to relax and get away, and this fellow, a nice enough guy as far as I can tell, is there every weekend mowing his lawn, power-washing the siding on his camp, weed-whacking and, and most loathsome of all, leaf-blowing.
First off, no one should have a lawn at a camp. More importantly, leaf blowers are second only to jet skis when it comes to noisy, polluting, unnecessary contraptions. Get a rake, for heaven’s sake.
Anyway, I am now feeling quite smug and superior for not buying a powerboat. But I am also a little disappointed I won’t be trolling around the main body of the lake next spring. I don’t think I have been out of our little cove for 30 years.
“Why don’t you just rent a boat at the marina a couple of times a year?” my lovely wife, Carolyn, suggested helpfully.
I might just do that. Then again I may stick to the environmental high ground and just paddle around the cove in the canoe, searching for frogs and turtles with the grandchildren.