The Mast-Head: A Hole in the Water

Despite having grown up in a sailing family, I am now the owner of a 24-foot powerboat

   The other day as I was explaining a cliché about boats to our oldest child, Adelia, I became acutely aware of the gap between us. The old saw, “A boat is a hole in the water that you pour money into,” meant nothing to her, she made clear as I tried to put it several different ways.
    Despite having grown up in a sailing family, I am now the owner of a 24-foot powerboat. The 1991 lobster-style fiberglass vessel was a gift from a friend who decided to take up flying instead of boating some years ago. It was mine, he said, for the cost of trucking it from its berth north of San Francisco.
    Adelia and I had been talking about the outboard motor and why was it that our boat could only travel across the water at about 12 knots when a friend’s Grady White might go 20 knots or more. It was all about horsepower, I explained. Our friend has a Yamaha 250; ours is a 125.
    “So why not get a bigger motor?” she asked.
    I said that more horsepower cost more money, and, plus, a bigger motor used more fuel. Then I dropped the cliché on her and got a blank stare in return.
    Given how infrequently I have been able to use the boat in the past few years, mostly because of the demands on my time and an attention-demanding toddler in the house, putting any more money into this particular hole in the water does not make sense. There was a boatyard bill for hauling and winterizing, more for summer dock space, a few bucks for registration, and a bit more to fill the gas tanks.
    Now, when we more or less are getting the kids’ summer schedules squared away, the East End has been locked into an unappealing couple of weeks with thunderstorms in the near-daily forecast.
    Truth is, the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July always seem like a prelude to real summer. There are screen windows to put up, beach chairs to dig out of storage, a garden to plant. By the July Fourth weekend, I’ve got most of it done, and, weather permitting, it will be boating time.
    This year, I really, truly, plan to get our money’s worth.