June 27, 2016

Island Living:
Why I’m Buying A Boat And Other Ways To Blow Your Money

By JOY CRIST

On a recent gorgeous Saturday, I was sitting on our front porch with my laptop trying to look productive and important, when I noticed our neighborhood friend biking down the street while trying to balance a really large gas can.

Any normal person would pause what they’re doing and ask, “Hey, Where are you headed?” So, naturally, I looked up and asked, “Hey, What are you setting on fire?”

He responded that he was about to gas up his boat and take it out on its inaugural ride for the 2016 summer season and that we were welcome to ride along if we were so inclined.

Now, here’s a tip from me to you that will make your life infinitely better in every way: If someone offers you a boat ride, you drop whatever it is you’re doing and say “Yes!”

I don’t care if you’re at work, at your own wedding, or in the middle of a surgical procedure. (Although you’ll probably want to get a new doctor if your surgeon asks you, mid-procedure, if you’re up for a boat ride. And the person who shouts out at your wedding, “Get on a boat!” probably shouldn’t have been invited in the first place.)

Anyways, it also doesn’t matter if the boat ride is to Buxton, to the Inlet, or to England. You just cancel whatever plans you have scheduled for the day and go.

Honestly, I know I had important things to do that day – like continuing to fiddle on my laptop or going to the Food Lion to creep through the Saturday crowds with a deer-in-headlights expression.

But cruising out to the sound -- or wherever we were going -- sounded like a better agenda on all counts.

So John and I threw on our “boat attire” – navy bathing suit, breezy tank top, and matching shorts for me and whatever looked clean in the dirty laundry pile for him – and climbed aboard.

When we arrived at the vessel, a straightforward but comfortable 17-foot skiff, our friend was tinkering around making repairs and using fancy terms that I was unfamiliar with like “air valve” and “gel coat” and “engine.”

Feeling somewhat useless, I offered to help as best I could by a) Banging on some boat part with a hammer, b) Banging on some boat part with a wrench or c) Banging on multiple boat parts with multiple tools. After all, I know my way around a toolbox and can hit anything with veritably any object that’s available. (And this is probably why John keeps his toolbox hidden.)

Our friend smartly said he was fine, and after more tinkering – and surprisingly little boat-part banging – we were on our way within minutes.

Now, when someone offers you a free boat ride, you should sing for your supper, so to speak. And since I didn’t have Doritos or a six-pack of beer handy -- my preferred means of currency -- I tried to make myself useful by providing stimulating conversation.

Naturally, I failed miserably, by making such astute observations, such as “The sound sure is blue!” or “Hey, that looks like a bird!” while en route.

Our friend didn’t seem to mind -- or at least he was polite enough not to give me the "Did that really come out of your mouth?’ look that my husband was giving me -- and we cruised along to our destination.

And where do you go when you have no agenda, no tumultuous weather, and no food or beer? Why, you go to get food and beer, of course!

So we headed to Pop’s in Buxton to grab lunch and a drink before cruising back to the house, and thus completing an amazing Saturday afternoon.

Granted, the boat had some issues after we tried to shove off for our return trip, and we ended up catching a cab ride back to Avon instead. You could call this a setback, but I call it a wonderful extensive tour of Avon and Buxton that utilizes multiple forms of transportation – kind of like a triathlon but with no physical exertion required.

Anyways, by the time we had gotten dropped off our house – all rosy-cheeked from both the ample sunshine and our three-beer buzz – I turned to my husband and whispered a phrase that I’ve told him about a million times since we got married.

Nope, it wasn’t “I love you.”

It was “We need to buy a damn boat.”

Everyone has those big luxury purchases that they secretly stow away in their minds as things they are going to eventually buy, when or if something else happens. And sometimes you succumb to temptation, log onto Amazon, and simply go for it.

This is why if you root around the depths of my closet -- something I would not recommend unless you’re up-to-date on your vaccines -- you’ll find a banjo. And a saxophone. And a NordicTrack ski machine. And a Roomba. And completely unopened instructions on how to use all four items.

And while a boat is on the top of my purchase bucket list -- and has been for a while -- there are a lot of reasons why I haven’t taken the plunge on this particular splurge item.

For one thing, no matter whom you talk to when you verbally relay that you’re thinking about buying a boat -- and this includes both boat owners and non-boat owners -- they all say the same thing, which is “You know what boat stands for? Break out another thousand.”

Yes, a boat is the ultimate money pit, it seems. That's because, in addition to regular expenses, like gas and registration, you also have to worry about maintenance, repairs, and other “stuff” – aka things that can’t be repaired simply by banging on a random boat part with a wrench or hammer.

And in addition to this general “money pit” response, our friends have pointed out a myriad of reasons why I, specifically, should not be a boat owner.

Luckily, I have had years of practice in objecting to these concerns, which are outlined as follows:

“Do you even know how to drive a boat?”

Nope. But I barely know how to drive a car either, and it seems to me, that I have way less chance of blindsiding a poor unsuspecting pedestrian on the open water.

“Do you know what kind of a boat you want?”

Yep. Something that’s under three grand that also doesn’t look like the raft from the movie "Castaway."

“Aren’t you the person who tried to tell me that the duck blind structures you see in the Pamlico Sound are deer stands?”

Yes. A good friend of mine -- who has also convinced me on a regular basis that someone had written “gullible” on my ceiling, thus causing me to look up -- once told me that the weird structures you see miles out in the sound were deer stands. And yes, I believed him for a decade or so. But now I am more educated and am secretively relieved that there’s not a lot of deer hunting in the sound because that seems like it could get super messy for kiteboarders and windsurfers.

“Wait… you believed that duck blinds were deer stands for a decade?”

Yep. Also, shut up.

Anyway, at this point, it appears that my continuous words of love to my husband have stayed true for years – Darling, love of my life, we need to buy a damn boat.

And it is indeed a stupid purchase, and frivolous, and a money pit, and seeing that my tried-and-true way of dealing with mechanical issues is to bang on something -- or blow on it old-school Nintendo-style -- it’s clear that I have no earthly idea what I’m doing and should never purchase a boat.

But you know what’s great about Hatteras Island? Being sensible doesn’t always have to be a priority all the time.

After all, everyone here had to ignore a few common-sense ideals to live on the island for the long-term – like avoiding hurricanes, or being less than an hour away from the nearest hospital, or just enjoying a winter where there’s more than six restaurants open.

But would you trade these common-sense practices to live anywhere else in the country? Neither would I.

And if there’s an activity that will get you out in our beautiful locale more –whether it’s surfing, kiteboarding, kayaking, fishing, or boating – wouldn’t you drop a few bucks to make sure you enjoy our incredible environment to its fullest?

This is exactly why I’m buying a boat. Or at the very least, nag about buying a boat until my husband ponies up for one. Lucky man, isn’t he?

Because you inherently take a little bit of risk when you decide to live here, and if you need to succumb to a bucket list purchase to make life exceptional, then you should always take the plunge.

So if you see a fashionable mariner banging on a castaway-style vessel like a cavewoman, or notice a stranded vessel with a passenger who is passing the time by strumming a banjo or wailing on a saxophone, or even see someone who has just run into Pop’s yelling about how they just hit a deer stand in the Pamlico Sound, no need to call the proper psychiatric authorities.

Chances are it’s just me, living the dream.

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