Un­charted

HAV­ING A LIT­TLE CHAT WITH A GOOD FRIEND CLARIFIES WHAT’S AL­WAYS SEEMED LIKE, WHAT YOU MIGHT CALL, “ONE OF MY IS­SUES.”

Power & Motor Yacht - - CONTENTS - BY CAPT. BILL PIKE

Is per­fec­tion re­al­is­tic—or at­tain­able—on your boat?

Ihad an in­ter­est­ing talk re­cently with a good friend of mine, Pat, who owns a small con­struc­tion com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in fine car­pen­try. Pat’s about my age, maybe a bit younger, and has been in the car­pen­try biz for more than three decades. We were talk­ing about get­ting stuff “just right,” i.e., in to­tal ac­cord with a given in­di­vid­ual’s take on things. You know, what you might call the per­fec­tion­ism syn­drome.

“Of course,” Pat said, “per­fec­tion is not re­ally ob­tain­able. It’s some­thing you shoot for.”

“Yeah,” I replied, get­ting slightly de­fen­sive. “But I gotta ad­mit I’m just a lit­tle per­fec­tion­is­tic about my boat. I mean, ev­ery­thing’s gotta be just right. What’s so bad about that?”

Which is where the in­ter­est­ing part kicked in. Pat’s one of these good ol’ south­ern boys, you know, a per­sua­sive sto­ry­teller, with a beau­ti­ful river­side home he calls “The River House.” And he promptly pro­duced a para­ble, sort of, that in­volved his wa­tery res­i­dence and an ac­quain­tance of his who’s a tad more prac­ti­cal (as in aes­thet­ics be damned) than he is per­fec­tion­is­tic. Pat said he’d re­cently hired the guy to fix a sof­fit at The River House be­cause he’d got him­self jammed up with other stuff. The re­sult was ser­vice­able but far from pleas­ing to the eye.

“He put a two-foot scarf into it,” Pat com­plained, “when he should have just bought him­self a whole brand-new board. That woulda been the right way to go.”

I agreed, of course. But then Pat dou­bled down on me— he opined that go­ing for top-shelf per­for­mance these days, whether you’re talk­ing sof­fits or boats, is wholly un­re­al­is­tic, con­sid­er­ing the time sen­si­tiv­i­ties a man’s gotta deal with.

“I guess so,” I fi­nally agreed, walk­ing away. But then, in less than an hour, I zipped right back to my orig­i­nal per­fec­tionlovin’ po­si­tion, opt­ing to buy a new, su­per-pre­cise Dremel Saw-Max to com­plete a wood­work­ing job on the Betty Jane II rather than hang with the clunkier tools I al­ready own. “Might as well do this job right,” I told my­self, “And hey, maybe I’ll be able use the Saw-Max on some other fine-tol­er­ance project some­where down the line.”

The whole af­fair sorta put a bee in my bon­net, how­ever. So, with the con­ver­sa­tion with Pat still fresh in my mind as I forked over my credit card to pay for the Saw-Max, I be­gan won­der­ing for the first time in my life—why, re­ally, am I never, ever sat­is­fied un­less things are pre­cisely right on board a boat? Is it just some neu­rotic habit? Is it just an out­growth of the con­vic­tion that things that float need to be care­fully main­tained and cared for in or­der to con­tinue float­ing? Or is it just plain ol’ cussed­ness?

The an­swer sur­prised me. Heck, I’ve al­ways thought of my­self as a free spirit, a roll-with-the-punches kinda guy who’s the far­thest thing from a con­trol freak. Was I wrong?

Well ap­par­ently ... yes! When it comes to boats—like the Betty Jane II, the Betty Jane, the Scrumpy Vixen, Misty, and all the other ves­sels I’ve owned and en­joyed over the years—I seem­ingly need to­tal, ab­so­lute, po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect, pain-inthe-tran­som, deeply per­fec­tion­is­tic con­trol. Why?

Con­sider “The World” for a mo­ment. Is it not a con­fus­ing, dis­turb­ing, im­per­fect place, es­pe­cially these days?

Now con­sider a boat. Is it not dif­fer­ent? Is it not a spe­cial, if ad­mit­tedly small, place apart from the vast im­per­fect whole, which if care­fully man­aged and main­tained, con­sti­tutes a tem­po­rary refuge that’s pre­cisely the way you want it, that’s per­haps even pre­cisely the way it should be? And hey Pat, I ask you again, man: What’s so bad about that?

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