Start at the boat show when ready for a serious relationship. Others may question your commitment and mock your impulsive nature. Take comfort that you and your boat, your new love, can always cast off to where the current leads and where others’ voices are distant. I was told as a boy “the sea is in your blood”. Seems fate leads one to the boat show. The first boat I remember was made by Fisher Price and arrived with water ski and scuba gear, dolphin and mini sub. The experiences we shared proved transformative. Next, I captained our robin’s egg tri-hull in circles around Storm Bay, sitting in my father’s lap. On the tiller, I progressed from a peaceful MinnKota to a Johnson 2.2hp that spun right round and bucked and spit. I peaked in my early teens with a 9.8hp Mercury from when the decals were in brown tones. A twist of the handle summoned a throaty mix of firewater, smoke and testosterone that awoke something primal.
My father noticed and weighted the shallow twelve-foot with sandbags to counterbalance my innate enthusiasm. I replaced the plywood transom, installed lights, removed the sandbags, trimmed up the motor and ran the expensive spark plugs. At the same time, my buddy commandeered his Grandpa’s old boat from an era when the electric start was posh and everything was built to military-grade. His favourite approach to the main beach at Falcon Lake was at full throttle without lifting the motor. These boats made us cool (not that we weren’t cool before).
By sixteen, I found summer employment at the marina. Unlike my coworkers, I had few or no spare parts after fixing a motor, and so I entered the realm of mechanic. With such status came the test drive, as your reward for every job completed. My quality control program was so rigorous that by the end of the season, few boats on the lake remained untested. I was exposed to folks passionate about life on the water to the extent that boating transcended their lingo and fashion sense. Adults became kids, and it had something to do with the freedom to set your own course. Mechanic status also meant that the family bo
at was no longer untouchable. My father warned of deadheads in the water, but more often I noticed them in a circle at the end of the beach (playing hacky-sack). For now, I was the man. In this boat, we caught the trophy walleye that hangs over the bar. Towed by this boat, I skied a complete pass of the course at 22 off. Summer afternoons were a boatful of friends at the cliffs. And I remember the boat show when we bought her new. The purchase price, divided by years of service, would now result in a rate of $500 per year and declining. And my children remember this as their first boat.
I found my way on land and I found my place on the water. The draw of the boat show for Winnipeggers goes beyond the neon that is never out of style. Your boat can get you to where you never imagined possible and you can trust it to get you home. There is no stronger bond. Try all types but be sensitive enough to recognize your life partner when you turn the corner at this year’s show. Being open to a new relationship is not impulsive, but rather the result of a lucky upbringing. Either way, better to ask for forgiveness than permission. And there’s no harm in looking (or in a test drive).