Power & Motor Yacht

Uncharted Waters

Okay, so the impeller needs changing and so does that filter. Are such trifles onerous? Or are they actually therapeuti­c?

- By Capt. Bill Pike

It only takes one night aboard a new yacht to discover life’s a little gloomy without a toolbox and something to fix.

Some weeks ago, a big Florida dealership loaned me a boat to do a cruising story. Which, of course, was wonderful. Not only did I have a brand-new 30-somefooter to play around with for a couple of days but a spate of decent weather was predicted, the itinerary was free-form, a couple of close friends were coming along and the boat in question was the dealership’s latest and greatest: a circumstan­ce that virtually guaranteed no mechanical, electrical, plumbing, sanitary or other issues would arise.

One oddball detail did obtrude, however. Due to the logistics and scheduling involved, I had to spend the first night on board all by myself, a rather unusual state of affairs for me but one I was sorta looking forward to.

The festivitie­s began shortly after I’d pulled into a small, endearingl­y old marina in St. Petersburg, Florida, plugged my shore power cord in and hosed down the boat. Then, because I’d noticed a promising-looking little seafood restaurant just down the street, off I went to enjoy a great dinner and when I got back to the boat it was well after dark. Sounds okay so far, right?

But then things took a turn. Not long after I’d powered up the soft, mellifluou­s strains of the Ahn Trio on the Fusion stereo, pulled my Kindle out of the ol’ seabag and settled back on a foredeck lounge for a relaxing read, an unsettling realizatio­n hit. Shoot, I had zero interest in reading. And more to the point, when I really thought about it, I had zero interest in relaxing, listening to music or doing much of anything else either. Instead, I felt bored and gloomy.

Which was kinda strange, eh? I mean, here I was, on board a brand-new vessel that cost more than my house, with a cushy lounge cushion under my posterior, a refrigerat­or chockabloc­k with beverages, “Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac” wafting

through the ether and a whole pile of other goodies at my disposal, to say nothing of the millions of stars tumbling out overhead. And I felt bored? And gloomy?

Maybe loneliness was the problem, I theorized. Heck, everybody knows that friends—companions, sometimes even iffy ones— tend to liven things up, make life more interestin­g, more fun, whether on board or ashore. But the more I thought the situation over, the more I suspected that something else—something beyond simply being alone—was twanging my magic twanger.

At 11 o’clock or thereabout­s, an interestin­g couple of questions bubbled up from the depths. Was my problem perhaps related to having nothing to do on this brand-new, absolutely-up-to-snuff watercraft? Was it related to having no tools on board, arrayed in multiple toolboxes? Was it related to having not a single thing to fix?

Despite the lateness of the hour, I decided to try a little experiment. Although there was no need for air-conditioni­ng on this particular, super-cool evening, I resolved to turn the AC unit on neverthele­ss, but only after I’d tracked down the related sea strainer to make sure it was not obstructed with grass or gunk. While such a thing was unlikely under the circumstan­ces, I’d say I was subconscio­usly hopeful.

“Hmmmm,” I soon hummed from the bilge at midnight, with my Mini Maglite focused on the AC’s raw-water inlet valve. While its lever felt a little sticky, I eventually managed to close it. Then I unscrewed the strainer’s lid and discovered (quite joyfully) a bit of sea grass balled up inside.

“Ah ha,” I enthused as I extracted the grass with great satisfacti­on and held it up like a trophy in the Mini Mag’s beam. “Cool!”

Obviously, the results of my little experiment were conclusive. I’d just fixed something (sort of ) and now I no longer felt bored. Or gloomy. In fact, I felt absolutely freakin’ fabulous!

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