Tails We Do

January 5, 2010 at 7:10 am (Uncategorized)

One of the surprises over the break was that Llew and I became boat owners. It all happened very spontaneously. The speed was giddying. And suddenly there we were, standing by the side of the road staring at the gutted hull wondering just what the hell we’d gotten ourselves into.

But first, some background.

Llew’s wanted a boat ever since we moved to Man Town, which is located on an isthmus with the Pacific Ocean on one side and Sydney Harbour on the other. It’s boating heaven, and boats of all descriptions have constantly rubbed Llew’s landlubber face in it for the last five years. In short, missing out for another summer was too much for him, and he snapped. I think the reasons for the snap were several – including prospective parenthood, at which time none of the incoming toys will be for him – and their combined effect extreme. The snap was of so great a magnitude it even drove him to Ebay, a site neither of us use, he because he finds it absolutely infuriating, and I because I have a deep fear of the battered, lice-ridden crap I’m baselessly convinced people use to site to sell. So imagine my lukewarm response when Llew unearthed a ravaged fibreglass hidden gem – stripped of all the features typically identifying an actual boat – and declared his fond, firm hopes of acquiring it. Goodie, I thought. This ought to be fun.

Neatly ditching Ebay rigmarole as a condition of purchase, Llew called the owner and made arrangements to see the boat first. I breathed an audible sigh of relief, now reassured that if the boat was missing its entire starboard side, we’d find out before becoming the new owners. So off we went on our first little boat related excursion. We found the vessel looking much as advertised, sitting on a trailer outside the owner’s place, and we had a good look at it before proceeding. Though old, chipped, cracked, gutted, warped, potentially unseaworthy and perhaps even stolen, it did seem quite a snazzy little craft, even I had to concede that. Oozing potential, as real estate ads always say of dilapidated deceased estates. A real fixer-upper! I glanced across at Llew and knew right then there was no turning back.

“Are we doing this thing?” I said. “Are we really going to do this?”

“How should we decide?”

I shrugged.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Flip a coin?”

“How should we call it?” Llew asked. “I know! There’s a platypus on one side, so that should be tails we do because the platypus is a mammal that, you know, really loves the water. Just like us.”

Uh huh.

“Suits me.”

Llew flipped the coin and you already know the result. His eyes were shining: he had found his new project.  He took the steps two at a time and practically threw our money at the man’s beaming face.

“Now what?” I said.

“Now we look around for an engine.”

I won’t bore you with the entire palaver of hunting engines, but I will say we lost our innocence and our budget in pretty much the first hour as boat owners. Oh my god, the expense! I still can’t believe the price of some of these outboards – WHY ARE THEY SO EXPENSIVE??? No kidding, some of these things are over twenty years old and they’re still selling – reconditioned and without a warranty – for thousands of dollars. New ones? Don’t even ask. Let’s just say we underestimated the price of a secondhand engine by about three times the cost of the boat itself.

Much more fun was the trip to Whitworth’s, no doubt the first of many, to price all things mariner. Compared to putting an engine on the back of the boat, kitting it out with seats and flooring (you think I jest, but currently it has neither) is going to be a bargain. There’s cool stuff, too, boat stuff. Just lots and lots of boat stuff. Compasses, radios, flares, maps, ropes and so on. Llew’s list grew, and that’s how it shall remain. A wish list. Llew’s No Way in Hell List. Because we’re n-o-t spending that kind of money on a boat that’s as soft as an Arrowroot in hot milk. No chance. But Whitworth’s was a great excursion, so I let Llewie buy two discounted coils of rope and a ‘How to’ book, because I figured he was really going to need that.

The maiden voyage? Well, that’s going to have to wait until tomorrow. The boat’s name? What else? Tails.



  1. litlove said,

    My husband will be SO jealous. Above all things, he’d love a boat – and not to be landlocked so that he could use it easily, of course. Hope you have lots of wonderful fun sailing her!

    • doctordi said,

      LL, it seems to be some primal drive that so many men share… I think it’s that same thing that used to drive the adventurers of old to seek out new worlds… Frankly most men secretly want to be Magellan. It does give me no small amount of pleasure to see this one fervent wish of Llew’s indulged – he has to wear a suit five days out of seven, and I really think the boat will prove to be compensation.

  2. Pete said,

    Congratulations! And even if sailing has been uncharitably described as standing under a cold shower tearing up large dollar bills, it is still loads of fun! Hope you’ll treat us to a pic one day. Sounds lovely.

    • doctordi said,

      Ha ha, Pete – uncharitable, maybe, but accurate? You betcha! That was really lesson number one and it just won’t quit!

  3. Grad said,

    I wrote about the sea and my much loved Arabesque several months ago on TCR. What a graceful boat she was. You will make wonderful memories on your yar vessel. Love her and she’ll love you back.

    • doctordi said,

      Graddikins, how did I miss this post? How? I shall have to seek it out. Arabesque? What a lovely name! And past tense suggests she is no longer… what happened? Oh, don’t answer that, I’ll track down the post and find out!

  4. Lilian Nattel said,

    I can’t wait to hear about its first float.

  5. doctordi said,

    It was something of a miracle, Lilian, trust me!

  6. davidrochester said,

    Good for Llew! I get seasick while walking through rainpuddles, but there is nevertheless something alluring about the sailor’s call … albatrosses notwithstanding.

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