Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Message from The Dock

How long has it been? Too long, I suppose. As I sit writing this, I am making plans to head up to Michigan and volunteer at Boyne Thunder, one of America’s premier poker runs, and which was the subject of my last post on this website, back in 2011. A lot has happened since then, so let me briefly review…

I bought my boat when I turned 50, as a gift to myself. Always loved boats – operated them, but never owned one. I enjoyed my Formula for the first few years, but never got to use it as much as I wanted, and hardly ever in bigger water where I could really enjoy it. In 2010, I was “downsized” from the best job I ever had, out of work for 9 months (due to the recession) and eventually found a job making about 1/3 of my previous income.

Financially we were fine, but with gas at about $4 a gallon and our disposable income lower, boating became a guilty pleasure that increasingly came in second to staying at home on weekends and hanging out at the pool with friends. My vision of how I was going to enjoy my boat sharpened as I realized a few things:

1)  The time I would have to enjoy boating would be more limited than I thought. With both a pool and a boat, we would generally be splitting our weekends between the two, not counting weekends here and there that would be lost to lousy weather.

2)  I bought a (to me) large boat with a comfortable cabin thinking we could overnight on it. Only after I bought it did my wife indicate she could not sleep on a boat. That eliminated any possible savings on overnight accommodations for our boat trips. Hell—I could have just bought a Donzi sweet 16.

3)  It eventually became apparent that the wife was not a fan of high speed on the water. She liked a boat that looked fast, but was not so interested in going fast, or—god forbid—getting any air under the hull. Seems strange for a woman who enjoys riding roller coasters.

4)   The closest lakes to me are nice, but a 26’ boat was really too much boat for them. Limited speed areas; mostly no-wake zones. Lake Erie was 30+ miles away – but opportunities to get up there were pretty limited.

As a result of all this, the boat spent more time on the trailer in my driveway than it did on the water. It was paid for, but winter storage, maintenance, insurance and other costs made me reconsider my situation.

I also must interject here that I eventually came to the realization that the “boating lifestyle” I had envisioned was one that demanded either a significant investment in money (deep pockets) or time (free weekends) that I could not fully devote to the cause.

Most of the folks I saw taking their big boats (and their friends) to poker runs have lots of disposable income. You don’t have to look at a newer 40’ offshore boat with doubles or triples to know that they own their own company or have a very high-level job. It’s like almost owning your own private airplane; these folks can spend several thousand dollars on a weekend poker run and not bat an eye, and then do it again the following week. I think it’s great that they can do this, and it’s fun to follow—but that would never be me.

Of course, we all know there are lots of other folks out there who also enjoy going to poker runs who don’t have big bucks to blow. They may have smaller or older boats. They may participate by volunteering as a marshall boat, or having pals help subsidize their entry fee. They may attend less expensive events, too. But what they also have is more time—time away from family, time (and skill) to repair and maintain their own boat, maybe just more time in general, since boating is their primary activity, period. Unless I happen to have a job related to the boating industry, that’s not me, either.

So it should be no surprise that I sold the Formula a couple of years ago. I plan on having another boat before too long—but it will probably be smaller, and hopefully, permanently docked on the water near wherever I decide to retire.

Saying so long to my beloved BlackJack. Hope she found a happy home.
While I may have been slightly disenchanted with my initial foray into performance boating, I certainly never lost interest. I still love fast boats, and being both near the water and on the water. That will never change. What has changed is the way I choose to enjoy the hobby/sport/lifestyle. That may mean volunteering at events, attending more races and finding more ways I can contribute while acknowledging my current “landlubber” status.

In the meantime, even though I stopped posting on this site regularly, I transformed the main website into a weekly news update, with stories gathered from my Twitter Powerboat News list. That has allowed be to retain some presence on the web, in addition to my Twitter site - which now serves as the primary web platform for [B3]. My posts there are seasonal, but with almost 3,000 followers, it remains as one of the most prominent performance boating accounts on Twitter. I am happy about that.

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