Everyone has heard the old joke “the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it.” Like so many snippets of conventional wisdom the humor obscures subtle truths. The day the boat is purchased is a day of promise: the promise of good times on the water and all manner of fun (fishing, tubing, boating, racing, etc.). The day the boat is sold marks one or more of the following: 1) the achievement of the promised good times, 2) a time to move on to another (bigger/faster/safer/different) boat, 3) the admission that the boat is damaged/ruined beyond the point of repair, or 4) the recognition that some boats can drain bank accounts and suck the dreams out of people.

Like so many pastimes in life, boats are memory generators. Whether the memories are mostly good or mostly bad says a lot about the owner’s frame of mind the day the boat is sold. Unlike cars, boats don’t necessarily make life any easier. If nothing else, cars offer a lot of convenience. Unless you live on an island and need a boat to get to the mainland, boats don’t offer much convenience. Like cars, boats require maintenance and upkeep. Derelict cars are much like derelict boats: their owners have decided they are more trouble than they are worth. Even so, the owner has the obligation to take the car or boat to salvage so it does not become someone else’s problem.

Larger boats have more in common with recreational vehicles, especially so-called “land yachts.” RV’s offer the promise of at least a taste of adventure. So do larger boats. For some reason, though, you don’t hear the same joke being made about owners who buy and sell RV’s. I think I may know the main reason for this. RV’s do offer added convenience over a car in that the owner can take his personal “home” along with him. On the other hand, most boat owners are doubly inconvenienced because they don’t live on the water, and may even have to store their boat at a storage site. Thus, they not only have the inconvenience of having to pick up the boat at the storage site, but they then have to haul it to the lake. Even for those boat owners who keep their boats in a slip at the water, if they have to drive to get to it that increases inconvenience.

For a long time I’ve held the view that I would not own a large boat if I could not keep it at a dock at my house. Otherwise it’s simply too inconvenient. Inconvenience leads to less usage which inevitably leads to the question, “Why am I keeping this thing?”





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