The other day, I noticed that one of the search terms someone had used to find “Life’s a Beach” was “The Joys of Boat Ownership” cartoon. I’m fortunate enough to own a signed copy of this Wiley classic. You can’t see it on this small rendition, but basically the boat owner drives 350 miles to the marina whistling a happy tune. He arrives at the marina, and blissfully throws a bucket of money at his boat, then happily drives away. The boat, of course, never leaves the dock. The signed cartoon is framed and hanging on the wall in my office. I mention it because replacing the sea cock on my live well is becoming a real nightmare. Today, Tim cut the old through hull fitting off the seacock. We worked for an hour trying to loosen the through hull fitting from the valve, but to no avail. So he went home, got his grinder, and in 10 minutes, it was off … rather permanently. But we have that much accomplished, and there is about a 1″ hole in the bottom of my boat.Now, on the up side, I was able to buy a new brass valve at Lowes rather than a boat store. On the valve is a stamp. WOG, which stands for “Water, Oil,Gas”. The valve that costs $40-$50 at any boat store is $10 at at the hardware mega-mart. I went with the brass rather than the composite plastic simply because it’s less expensive … but even in brass, it’s EXACTLY the same valve. The only difference is on the sea cock we took out of the boat, there was a small drain plug used to drain the valve for winterization. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem, even in NE Florida. So I’ll take a gamble on the valve from Lowes.Then, I went to a boat store, because Lowes isn’t going to have a through hull fitting no matter what. The through hull at Boaters World costs twice as much as the valve at Lowes.
But the final insult is this. The pump that provides raw seawater to the live well and the washdown fitting is just fine. Absolutely nothing wrong with it. But it attaches to the sea cock via a plastic flange that was apparently cemented into the valve when it was assembled. I can’t get the damn thing apart. Tim’s going to try, but you can’t buy JUST the flange. My only prospect for having a working live well and deck wash is likely to be to buy a new pump, and that’s going to be a $50 part regardless of how you slice it.
Fortunately, I don’t have to drive 350 miles to my marina. It’s more like 7. But I still have the high honor and rare privilege of throwing buckets of money at the boat. It’s just part of the deal.
Tim’s trip back to the house for the grinder wasn’t a total waste. My last time at the boat store, I’d bought something called a “Miracle Cloth” that really took a lot of the surface rust stains off the steering wheel, other brightwork, and hull. I was a little skeptical at first, but was pretty happy with the results. I still need to get a can of “Never Dull” to keep it looking its best.
Wiley, I’m sure, has owned boats in his life, or has known someone who has. It’s a uniquely joyous and frustrating experience. It’s true that time spent on the water is not deducted from man’s allotted span. Unfortunately, time spent in the boatyard may offset some of that life-lengthening magic. But still, I love the time spent in the boat yard as well. At least I’m not lying underneath this boat in 40 degree weather in a Tyvec suit, goggles, and respirator sanding old bottom paint off the bottom of a 32 foot hull. I did that every year at this time with the sailboat in Maryland. I’d love to have a sailboat again, but my center console fishing boat is perfect for the situation we’re in now. And I’ll be spending what it takes to get her back in the water. For the time I’m able to spend on the water, it’s worth every penny.