What hap­pens when the doc­tor be­comes the pa­tient.

Yachting - - INSIGHTS -

Ispot­ted the email from Capt. B and winced. Like the thump of a doc­tor’s mal­let to the knee, it pro­voked a nat­u­ral re­flex. Capt. B’s boat­yard has treated my con­di­tion for years, and while he is no physi­cian, Capt. B is quite the sur­geon when it comes to ex­tract­ing Ben­jamins from my bill­fold.

How­ever, now it was my turn to play doc­tor.

In­stead of an in­voice, the email was an out­line of Capt. B’s vi­sion for con­vert­ing the re­mains of his 34-foot, dieselpow­ered sedan into a modern out­board cruiser. The brief spec­i­fi­ca­tion and guessti­mates for cen­ter of grav­ity (CG) and per­for­mance ac­com­pa­nied a cryp­tic plea: “some thoughts when you can af­ford them.” Aha! Af­ter serv­ing as Capt. B’s an­nu­ity for years, I now had him as my client.

Oh, what a glo­ri­ous re­pose I en­joyed that night while dream­ing of serv­ing my pri­mary marine ser­vice provider as a yacht de­signer. I tri­fled end­lessly on bill­able hours. I took wild shots at es­ti­mat­ing cost, played pin the tail on the CG and pro­posed grossly overop­ti­mistic per­for­mance. The crème de la crème was, of course, un­re­al­is­tic mile­stones and com­ple­tion dates. I couldn’t wait to get started.

I couldn’t re­call the de­tails of how Capt. B had come to own the ves­sel, but I re­mem­bered that he’d built her for a cus­tomer. I imag­ined the poor devil had likely passed of nat­u­ral causes while wait­ing for her com­ple­tion. She’d been in­terned at the yard since the 1980s, serv­ing as a hos­tel for a va­ri­ety of aquatic and ter­res­trial crea­tures. Her top­sides were a petri dish of molds, and a thick beard had grown from her hull bot­tom. “Fan­tas­tic idea!” I gushed when Capt. B re­ceived my call. “What idea?” he mum­bled. “Well, the restora­tion of your yacht, of course,” I replied. At first he in­sisted that it had all been a hor­ri­ble mis­take: “I’m afraid the idea came to me last evening af­ter a num­ber of bour­bons. I should have turned off the com­puter and gone to bed.” “Non­sense,” I said. “Al­co­holic bev­er­ages have in­spired many great yacht de­signs. You, my friend, were tem­po­rar­ily a free­thinker, un­en­cum­bered by the mis­guided opin­ions you’ve ren­dered in your 60 years as a cap­tain, boat­builder and yard owner. Your vi­sion is bril­liant.” “It’ll cost too much,” Capt. B grum­bled.

“Not nec­es­sar­ily,” I volleyed. “With a bit of tweak­ing to your spec­i­fi­ca­tion, we could save a for­tune and cre­ate value should you ever con­sider sell­ing her. In fact,” — I paused for ef­fect — “I be­lieve the yacht you’ve de­scribed is some­thing of a break­through. Her blend of old and new is the per­fect ve­hi­cle for cruis­ing mil­len­ni­als.”

The hook was set! But I be­gan to feel guilty. I thought of all the money I’d poured into my fleet over the years with Capt. B’s en­cour­age­ment. While an en­abler, he’d al­ways been fair. I de­cided to visit the yard and take a se­ri­ous look at his dream boat. Per­haps I could talk him out of it.

It was too late. He’d moved my boat from the shel­ter of his shed to make room for his own. A fel­low in rub­ber gloves and boots was swab­bing her down with fu­mi­gant.

Oh no … what had I done?


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