It is time for my spring fitting out

June 2005

By Dodge Morgan

My annual fitting-out epistletome, directed, this time, to both the do-it-yourself addict and the get-more-out-of-the-boatyard sloth.

Do-it yourself addict

These are generally arrogant people much like those who brag about how early they arise in the morning. There is an entire image and personality obligated from these people, Goodwill-style clothing festooned with paint splatters and epoxy smears. Social skills are overlooked by an attitude of superiority and belligerent claims of extreme hardship and poverty. I was once a do-it-yourself addict. Here are my standard admonitions for these people:

Never carry tools on your first visit to your boat. Carry some stale crackers and a rum-filled flask. Circle the boat slowly eating the crackers and creating a mental task-priority list. Sit a distance far enough away from your boat to see her entirely if barely without moving your head and consume flask contents while you schedule your next visit, the second in a series of six prior to any actual work being done.

Never ever use a paintbrush when a scrub brush will do.

Never pick at painted surfaces with a sharp tool such as a jackknife as this always results in an exercise without closure.

Depend on dull tools as they remove less and discover less.

Tend to the boat’s cosmetic needs and neglect all internal combustion machinery and devices that use electricity. Most important item on a power craft is the anchor; on a sailboat, the boathook.

Set a series of safe launch dates, June 1 to make you feel good, July 1 to be realistic and August 1 to be contingently honest.

Boatyard sloth

These are earnest boat people with lifestyle and attitude much like those who pay neighbor kids to shovel their sidewalks and mow their lawns. They are not really affluent, average personal net worth less than their do-it-yourself cousins. They are simply lazy. Here is a boatyard operating script that works, for which I am supremely qualified since I was once a boatyard laborer and am now a boatyard sloth:

Part of spring ritual as a customer is to be noted by boatyard personnel as the comical yard eccentric. This role will bond you with boatyard workers who invariably are a weird bunch themselves and will allow you to get away with a wide range of aberrant behavior.

Invent a series of intimidating and humbling job titles for yourself and cycle through them, such as undercover IRS agent, comparative philologist, freckle surgeon.

Occasionally don transvestite garb for yard visits and carry a volume of “Sayings of Chairman Mao” with you.

Visit the yard often but at random times. Wander the yard bellowing always-positive critiques of work under way, but replacing boatyard jargon artfully with terms for female anatomy.

Burst into sporadic song, Oscar Brand-type bawdy sea chantey preferred.

Treat the bookkeeper with special attention, sending weekly nips of coffee brandy with sexually explicit love notes, no matter the person’s gender.

Because you have achieved the rank of loony eccentric, you can get away with bill-paying aberrations such as signing checks with historically famous names not your own – J. Slocum, Ferdinand Magellan, Capt. Bligh – or with artistically misspelled names of living plutocrats – Stembender, Boosh, Frump.

In the space at the lower left of your checks meant to note payment identification, write “for sexual services provided.”

Dodge Morgan broke all sorts of records when he single-handed American Promise around the world without stopping in 1985 and ’86.