The winter of 2014 was unkind on many levels. It cost everyone more for heat, and it did more road damage than I’ve seen in quite a few years. The wind ravaged everything, even tipping my fourteen foot fishing boat over. It turned out to be a stroke of luck because the cover got torn off, yet the interior was not exposed to the harsh weather. While puttering around with the boat I got to thinking that we didn’t use it all that much for fishing. Turns out it ended up being more of a pleasant cruiser with the Grandchildren. They loved it when the Johnson outboard brought it up on plane and the spray made rainbows alongside the gunwales. They loved the wind in their hair and the beauty of the lake. However, with two adults and two children on board, it was work to get the boat up on plane. I could see that pulling a tube or a skier wasn’t something the boat and engine were designed for, and that seemed to be the direction we were headed.
I spent the last couple of months casually looking at used boats online. I had decided a while back that even though I liked to sail, a sailboat wasn’t going to be much fun for the younger grandchildren. I looked at Cuddy Cabin boats, but they’re just too big to haul back and forth to a lake. They’re much more suited to keeping in a slip, and that’s not in the cards for me. Besides, those big V-8 inboards are plenty thirsty. Anything over sixteen feet seemed to be more hassle and upkeep than it was worth. I "refined my search" as they say, and focused on fourteen to sixteen footers. Bowriders make a lot of sense because of the additional seating forward of the windshield. I started looking at those in earnest.
eBay was not a very worthwhile hunting ground for the practical purchase of a boat. It seemed that all the good ones were in California, Minnesota, or Florida. Prices were reasonable, but once you factored in the cost of running my 3Ž4 ton Dodge to Minnesota and back with a boat in tow, the cost was prohibitive. I focused on Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. That meant Craigslist. I have a love-hate relationship with Craigslist. The majority of the time the seller doesn’t even bother to get back to you. Buyers can be annoying, insulting, aggressive, or just plain scary. The feedback scores keep folks a lot more honest on ebay as long as you deal with people who have a score higher than ninety eight percent. Craigslist is the wild west of online buying as far as I’m concerned. However, it turned out to be a target rich environment for boat shopping. If only the sellers would respond!
After contacting a half dozen sellers concerning boats that I was interested in, only two actually responded. More proof that those who show up own the world. One guy was a moving target, so I scratched him from the list real quick. The second guy seemed more on the ball. Charlton Massachusetts didn’t seem all that far away, so we loaded tools and refreshments into the truck and headed south. We found the boat to be in decent shape and I bought it on the spot. After a Wal-Mart parking lot maintenance stop to grease the wheel bearings and add another tie down and some new safety chains, we were all set.
I have to say that its a nifty little boat. Its polished aluminum surfaces will look fabulous with a fresh polishing, and the old retro fifties boat steering wheel I have stored in the barn is going to look perfect on it. I’m selling the fishing boat to finance a new outboard motor for the aluminum boat, one that’s big enough to pull a skier eventually. Now all we need to do is wait for the ice to go out on the lake to try out the retro cool vessel.
Arlo Mudgett’s Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT FM Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.