April 21, 2013

Boats are full of hidden mysteries

YOUR newly acquired boat may look perfectly normal on the outside. But as soon as you start lifting hatches, opening lockers, pulling drawers, and peering into the engine compartment, an enigmatic new world will emerge.

It can take you months to discover how all the systems work, where all the seacocks are, and why the masthead light only comes on if you plug in the cabin fan as well.

Boat owners are a meddlesome lot. They can’t resist adding or altering things in their constant quest for perfection.

The engine compartment glows eerily with pale LEDs the previous owner failed to explain. They dimly outline a puzzling forest of pipes, wires, and levers. Under a companionway step, a lump of something grows a white fur coat with startling orange spots. Deep in the bilge a loose copper wire terminates in a halo of virulent green fuzz.

A bikini top lies insolently at the foot of the quarterberth and a sticky drawer delivers a crumpled receipt for repairs to bottom blisters you weren’t told about.

Even if you make notes while you sit down with the previous owner and go through everything from stem to stern, there are certain to be things that both of you forget to mention in the excitement of the moment.

But gradually, one-by-one, you will solve the mysteries. You just need patience.

Today’s Thought
If you go directly at the heart of a mystery, it ceases to be a mystery, and becomes only a question of drainage.
— Christopher Morley, Where the Blue Begins

An acquaintance who lives in one of the tougher areas of Detroit tells me his kids are now going to a really old-fashioned school.  They have to put up their hands before they can assault the teacher.

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

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