Boating Turkey Awards

Maybe a month or so after we bought the boat, I got distracted leaving the dock and, while I did unplug the dock electricity from the boat, I left the lines loose in the boat and when I started to pull out, they fell into the water.

Fortunately, I had thrown the breakers, so there was not this massive set of sparks and I did not blow all the breakers on the dock, but it was embarrassing all the same.

One of the guys on the dock, who has owned big boats for about thirty years told me I had almost earned my first Turkey Award, which he hands out for stupid acts, like:

  • not unplugging the lines and leaving the dock really fast and ripping out the whole assembly from the boat
  • not coming in slowly enough and crashing into the dock—and with a 10 or 12 ton or heavier boat, this can cause quite a lot of damage
  •  not freeing an anchor before engaging the engines and ripping out the windlass and a portion of the boat’s deck.
  • Forgetting your wave runner is attached to the back of the boat and going full throttle, pulling the wave runner under the water where it acts like an anchor and rips the cleat off the boat, not to mention completely fouling the engine of the wave runner.

There is no end to what can go awry when you own a boat and when things go awry, the place it hurts the most is in the wallet because there is no such thing as a cheap repair bill on a boat.

We were in the Metropolitan Museum on July 5 the year we bought the boat. My son and a friend or two were staying on the boat and when they woke up, they noticed the hatches were beginning to float. The rear and mid-ship bilge pumps had failed and one of the drive shafts developed a leak.  The marina crew were excellent, brought their industrial sized pumps to the scene and started pumping water out only minutes before it would have covered the oil dip-sticks and allowed water into the engines themselves.  I was told this would not have earned a turkey unless the bilge pumps were turned off intentionally.

I have had a terrible time getting the anchor to set and when I did, about half the time, it gets so fouled it takes half an hour or more to free it—and this is in less than 30 feet of water. I cannot imagine what is involved in deep water anchoring. So, I went to the library and found a book on anchoring techniques and have gotten a little better at it.  Over two-thirds of the book dealt with techniques on freeing a fouled anchor.

Once, the bilge blowers just would not turn on, which is something you must do to avoid little problems like the gasoline vapors igniting and exploding when you hit the ignition.  I took them out, convinced they were bad and, out of a stroke of sheer luck, the guy in the next slip suggested I try hooking them up directly to the battery before going to buy new ones.  I did; they were fine/  So I put them back in and scratched my head for a long time before I remembered there were two sets of switches for them: one on the panel in the cabin and one on top above the throttle controls and both had to be turned on for them to run. The one on top was off.  This was about a three hour fun time.

It is easy to not remember something.  Routines matter. Get out of routine (like I did with the power lines) and things you do not want to happen do.

There is a phrase “cursing like a sailor.” I never understood it until I got the boat.  They say Murphy was in the Air Force.  Had he been in the navy, his proverb would not have even drawn attention: in boating, everything and anything that can possibly go wrong does.

I have a friend with a boat on the Chesapeake Bay, which is very shallow.  They say there are three kinds of boaters there: novices, those who have run aground,  and liars.

So why own a boat? Well, after spending hours de-spider-pooping the thing ,which made me think for a while that is why the poop deck is so named (it’s not, it comes from the French word for “stern”: puppis), general cleaning and repair, and after draining your wallet at the fueling station and West Marine, it is really fun. And sleeping in a boat that is softly rocking is incredible.

Speaking of West Marine:

When the first aboriginal made the first dugout canoe or raft, he soon found the dang thing needed a special type of pitch to be applied liberally to it to keep it from leaking and the only place he could find it was at the local West Marine and it cost the equivalent of three deciduous forests per eight ounce jar to buy and one eight ounce jar covered about three square feet. Noah must have been extremely rich.

The pictures are from

Not my boat, but very similar.  The “stateroom:” is a V-Berth.  Our boat does not have the superstructure the one in the picture does. It was an option the original owner either did not get or damaged somehow and never replaced, like the windshield in front of the cockpit.

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