Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pain Focuses The Mind

Pain and infirmity can put things in perspective.

Another day in the hospital, this time in the emergency room.  Not that I had an emergency, but that we were traveling and I had another diverticulitis attack.   And it wasn't fun.  Not only were my guts hurting, but when I took ibuprofen (which I am allergic to, apparently, thank you God!) I was breaking out in hives.  My eyes were so swollen, I looked like Rip Torn.  Then throw in vertigo and well, I ain't feeling so slick.   I am hoping that since I hit my deductible under Obamacare, this won't cost me too much this time around.  But I have to stop wearing those backless gowns - it is getting old, even if they also give you a keen bracelet to wear with it.

The hospital in Alexandria Bay, New York is very well staffed and efficient.  I was seen by a nurse practitioner who had a lot of more sick people on his hands to deal with.  But they actually gave me a cat scan which I am sorry I did not get a copy of, as I could put up a picture proving I have actual guts, as well as a heart.   But the bad news is, those guts are rotting out, now in two places, and I have to be a lot more careful about what I eat and drink from now on.

So he prescribes two kinds of antibiotics (not the kind that cause my muscles to detach, this time around, we hope) and my good friend, prednisone.  Oh, serious, you can see how easily these steroids are to abuse.  Within 24 hours, I go from feeling like throwing myself under a bus to feeling like I can rule the world.  There is no greater pleasure in the world than the release from pain.  That is how torture works, by the way, not by hurting people to get them to confess, but by offering them release from pain as a reward from confession.   People will do anything to make pain stop.

It is positively euphoric when pain stops, and there is a physical and chemical reason for this.  When you are in pain, your brain releases endorphins, which are sort of a home-made opiate in your brain, to help alleviate pain.  Take away the pain, and well, you are soaked in the damn things and are in fact, quite high on them.   So I am feeling quite good right now, in fact, fucking fantastic.

So we decided to buy a boat.  I think.  We'll see in the next few days, anyway.

Just what we need, a hoary old Chris Craft!

We have enjoyed traveling in the RV, but Mark wants to get back into boating and explore the Thousand Islands, St. Lawrence Seaway, The Rideau Canal, Lake Champlain, the Hudson river, and the Erie canal, the Finger Lakes (at least Seneca and Cayuga, anyway), the Great Lakes, and who knows what else?  Maybe the Intra-coastal Waterway as well.   Our budget is limited to under $50,000, but of course, the operating costs (including storage, fuel, insurance, docking, etc., will easily exceed $10,000 a year (yes, you read that right).

At this stage, the boat is like a butane lighter.  You are buying the right to spend money and little else.   Over the years (and after three boats) we've realized that spending a lot of money on a boat is pretty pointless.  They depreciate like mad, and the costs of ownership are about the same.  It costs as much to store, maintain, fuel and insure and $250,000 boat as it does a $50,000 one.  The big difference is that  you lose $125,000 in depreciation on the latter in five years.

You often see people throw a lot of money at a boat, or RV or car, trying to fix it up, and then they lose interest.  If you can find a vehicle like this, it can be a bargain.   We found a few boats that owners had thrown a pile of money at - the proverbial "hole the water to throw money into".   This boat for example, has two new bored and stroked 496 big block Chevy Mercruisers, which should move it through the water and suck fuel with two straws.   Like I said, the damn thing is a butane lighter - the cost of the fuel could easily exceed the cost of the boat.

We looked at a similar boat as well - and old Silverton with rebuilt 454 Crusaders and a brand-new generator.  A nice boat, but the master stateroom was way too small - I could barely fit into the bed.  Plus the owner fell ill before completing the project and there were a lot of loose wires and some apparent electrical problems to chase down.  A nice project boat, but more of a "turn wrench" than "turn key" - plus it was a little overpriced.  Plus the Chris Craft just has sexier classic lines.  I mean we looked at a Carver, but those don't even look like boats even if they have lots of room inside.  They look like a pregnant football.

We saw other boats up here that were newer and in nicer condition, but with over 1,000 hours on the clock.   Down in Florida, you can't give away a gas boat, and they rarely last more than 900 hours before the motors blow up.  In New York, gas is king, and it is rare to find a diesel boat and rarer still to find someone who knows how to work on one.  It is like the land time forgot.  The short season and lack of salt and sun mean older boats run for decades up here, and not just at the antique boat museum.

But my recent health issues have forced me to realize that if we want to do this boating thing, we need to do it now, because there won't be a later, and if there is a later, we won't be in any position to be dicking around with a boat.  A lot of boats are bought by older people - well into their 80's and even 90's, if you can believe that.   Usually they use the boat for a year or two and then you see them listed with the notation "health forces sale!" at which point they are sold to someone younger (in their 60's or 70's) who uses them more - for a few years - until they come up here less and less, and spend more time at the dock waxing and polishing than they do actual boating.  Finally, one year (or two or three or more) the boat never leaves the dock, and one year, they never go at all - and realize they paid $8,000 or more in fees to own something they haven't seen in a year or more and it moves down the food chain.

And eventually the food chain reaches us.

We plan on spending three or more months on the boat, so in terms of usage, we should enjoy it.  And the operating costs and overhead are far less than our vacation home was.   And ironically, this won't be the most expensive boat we've owned.  Our previous boat, the 28' Bayliner cost us over $60,000 secondhand.  We thought that a "newer" boat would be more reliable and cost less in terms of maintenance.  Guess what? NOT!  It was the least reliable of the three boats we had, and the overhead was about the same as the boat we are looking at, in terms of storage, docking, insurance, and fuel costs.   And it was a far smaller and less seaworthy a boat as well.

And we may sell the RV and the pickup truck in the meantime, as we may be using both less and less, and we have no need for two cars.   Selling those two "toys" will pay for half the cost of the boat, too.   One hobby at a time, right?

So this is hardly a major expense for us.  People spend more money on a moderately loaded pickup truck these days.  We will use it, have fun, and it will be a floating summer home for three months or more of the year.  But when we stop using it, it will go away.  We figure maybe five years or so, and when we are done seeing everything there is to see here, sell the boat and move on to the next thing, whatever that is.  Another RV, traveling, or just staying at home at that point.

The point is, life is very finite, so you might as well make the best of it.  We are fortunate that we are in a position now in life to go out and do things and one of the things we want to do is going boating again - for a while, at least.

And we can do this, because we got off the merry-go-round of living "paycheck to paycheck" with too many toys and not enough time to use them.  One reason why boats like this are so cheap, is that prices on older toys (including cars) fall off the map at a certain point, as banks get reluctant to loan on them.  The boat we are looking at had several offers on it this summer - all fell through due to financing.  In this price range and age, cash is king.   And for once in my life, I'm the guy with cash, instead of the poor slob I used to be, begging banks to borrow money for stuff I really didn't need.

And that's a better place to be, quite frankly.

UPDATE: The boat deal fell through, Which was probably just for the best. As I noted in an earlier log entry and as a reader reminded me, it's probably better just to rent these things rather than try to own them.