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by Dan Rogers - Newport, Washington - USA

I can always quit. If, I really want to. Sure. Anytime. When, I'm really ready to. I'm just not really ready. Well. Probably, not. Not ready, that is.

Knowing that something like this will most likely happen is absolutely no defense against it actually happening. Yep. I've started down that long, winding, slippery slope. Again. I admit it. And, no 12-step program is gonna' make it any better.

I'll bet you know somebody like this.

You see. It all started out about as innocently as something like this can start out. The best of intentions, and all that. I've been looking for a replacement engine for Old Salt. She's the 1959-vintage Glasspar Seafair Sedan that I rather laboriously brought back from total deterioration two Building Seasons ago.

The Seafair at the beginning of her significant surgery.
The Seafair part way through the overhaul process.

I've gone through a series of power plants, ranging from 90 down to 8 horses. I even convinced myself that I was actually getting the boat up to planing speed with a 25 hp longshaft that I "got a good deal on."

The Seafair up and hauling buckets before the 90 hp "Big John" developed pulmonary problems.
Old Salt, the re-constituted Seafair Sedan, with really-little motors.

The 90 was just about perfect, except he had serious COPD symptoms that turned out to just not be operable. The rest were just not what the doctor ordered, either. So, the search continues.

Meanwhile, Old Salt has become what that aviation community refers to as a Hanger Queen. Kept out of action in an Awaiting Parts condition. And, like hanger queens the world over, she has started "loaning" stuff to her more-operational sisters. First it was pretty straightforward. A life jacket here, a mooring line there. Then it was the kicker motor. And, a couple gas tanks. Finally, when the swing stove and all the "shipwreck stores" migrated to one or another member of the fleet; it was obvious fish-or-cut-bait time was upon us.

Like many of us in the small boat fraternity, I rather constantly troll the Boat Porn Channel (Craigslist ads). You know, for ideas. Mostly I look at the old "throw away" boats. SWMBO doesn't approve. But, that's no surprise to the hardcore among us, now is it? Anyhow, a couple weeks ago, this really interesting ad popped up. An 18 foot runabout, on a surge brake equipped trailer. And, the best part: a Chevy straight six coupled to a Mercruiser outdrive. Hey. The wheels started turning, and then spinning completely outa' control.

Like I was saying. It was all pretty innocent. At the beginning. I'd just nip down and pick up this rare gem. Heck, the asking price was only about the cost of a night in a decent motel. And, since all I was looking for was just the motor and underwater appurtenances; re-selling the trailer should about cover the acquisition costs. And, so it went. Until.

Until, I started to study the hull that venerable Detroit Iron was born with. Hey. I could actually build something pretty nice on this foundation. Probably, that pocket trawler cum tugboat that has been lurking in and out of my imagination for just about forever.

Sure. There was that runabout-style bow that I'd have to deal with. And, some other period-piece features that any 45 year old girl comes with. So, I blabbed in print about how I was gonna' Do It Again. And, then the inevitable happened.

I started pulling ancient upholstery vinyl from the hull interior, and generally removing the usual accumulation of sand, grime, and unidentifiable stuff shoved into the bilge and under the foredeck, etc. I even cut a couple test holes into the cockpit sole. The first two showed a clean bilge in my flashlight beam. The underside of the plywood wasn't really even damp. Things were looking pretty good.

So, fearless rot hunter that I am. I moved back aft to the engine space. The bilge pan under the 500 pound six-banger was broken and cracked. Somebody had spread RTV uckumpucky of some sort on the cracks at some point in her past. All the better to trap moisture and speed the cancer on its nefarious way. Yep.

The next several test holes showed more, and then lots more of that gooey, black stuff that plywood turns to when kept wet and dark and flexed now and then. Sure, I KNEW that was a possibility. I just didn't think it would really happen this time. The single forward engine mount rests squarely on this wet graham cracker. The "mounting screws" came out with my thumb and forefinger.

Now, I know, that most of the people I pass in the Wal-Mart parking lot don't care about these things. About the only thing in their lives any where near as old as these boats, that "follow me home," might be an unpaid credit card balance. Sure, most people "just get a new one." But, some of us march to a different drummer.

You probably know somebody like that.

So. I now have a boat that I never intended to keep, taking up the entire boat building area of my shop. There's an engine and outdrive that I bought to go into an otherwise really cool, and otherwise rot-free boat; that just might now stay with the erstwhile donor boat. What's worse, that drivetrain is way too heavy and long and high and OVERPOWERED for what I brought it home for, in the first place.

There's about five other boats that have punch list items awaiting my attention before the coming spring thaw. All parked out-of-sight, out-of-mind. There's yet another hull that is "temporarily" sitting on the front lawn-a development completely unauthorized by SWMBO, I hasten to add. (While I try to figure out what ever the next step might be.)

And, here I am seriously thinking that I can save this sow's ear and turn her into the silk purse that every fairy tale princess would simply adore. Hey, there's always room for one-or more like three-more. Right?

Now, you're sure you know somebody like that. And, I'll bet that guy figures he can quit any time he wants to, too. Maybe, I should have kept the phone number for that 12-step program. Just in case.

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