Who Am I?

My photo
A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

21 May 2007

The Life Aquatic

I have written before of the word for people who don't own boats here ("stranded"). This is a water-borne culture. Everything revolves around the sea, and everyone owns and drives a boat. You have to! But since arriving, I have been beholden to others for transportation. Which is ironic, since I have a helicopter at my disposal. I mean, you'd think...

As beautiful as Guanaja is, it is not rife with places to land a helicopter. Most of the beaches are sloped, and helicopters can generally only handle a slope of ten degrees or so, which isn't much. Plus, landing on the beach is terribly hard on the bird. The downwash from the rotor whips up the sand and water, eroding my main and tail rotor blades and getting sucked into my engine. Not good. Even the elevated pad at our home cay is not quite high enough to avoid kicking up a sea- and sandstorm when I land. There are a couple of docks, soccer fields and the odd small field that I can use, but it's not like I can zip around like some bumblebee from flower to flower when I want to go shopping or visiting.

There are no landing spots down on the Cay, our equivalent of "downtown," so doing any business there requires a boat ride. Mostly I've been using the Boss's boat when he's not here. But that's not a good situation. It sucks down way too much gas for me to be piddling around with it. It's the boating equivalent of taking the SUV down to the corner for the newspaper.

The Boss's Speedboat

I've been looking for something to call my own. Now, if you put the word out here that you are looking for a boat, you will be swamped with offers. Everybody either has an incredibly overpriced boat for sale, or knows someone who does. I made a lot of "test drives," but couldn't decide. For one thing, I wasn't sure what I wanted. I only knew that I did not want a rear-drive outboard, period. Man, I do not like driving those. Cabin-cruiser? Might not be a bad idea, but there's always that gas-consumption thing. Big boat? Little boat? Decisions, decisions.

The head of our power company here owns a small 6-seat runabout with a HUGE engine. He doesn't pull away from the dock; he blasts-off! like an F-15 getting catapaulted off the U.S.S Iowa. I see him going by our cay sometimes. It looks bizarre, like something out of a cartoon. The entire boat is out of the water except for the propeller. I've ridden in this boat - it is a kidney-busting experience.

Actually, I just wanted a slightly smaller version of the two "speedboats" we use for work: open-hull, center-console outboard. Plenty of room for people or "things," lots of versatility. Matt Hewatt, one of our regular guests (who's been down here so many times and helps us out so much that he ought to be on the payroll) made noises about a boat partnership so he'd have something to play around and go diving with when he was here.

The Boss bought a piece of property from a guy who was leaving Guanaja. The deal came with other things, among them a boat. ...An open-hull, center-console, with a 60 h.p. Yamaha outboard! It had been in storage since 2004, but was pronounced solid by people who know about such things. It was offered to me for a good price. Needless to say, I jumped on it like a zit-faced, virgin teenager who'd just been offered a "sleepover" playdate with Paris Hilton.

Mi lancha nueva (my new boat)

Ta-da! Stranded no longer!

Now, couple of problems right off the bat. First, no top. Needs one of those cool Bimini tops like our other boats have (gotta have some shade). That's easy. Second, only 60 horsepower? Come on, man! I need, like, 200. Back in Florida, my friends ribbed me unmercifully because I drove a Dodge Neon. "Chick car," they called it, alluding to my lack of penisization. Not that I am sensitive to such insults, mind you (who, me?), but if I ever do buy another car it will be a "mid-life crisis" Dodge Viper with that muscular, Corvette-shaming V-10 engine! Or maybe a big, bad-ass 4WD pick'emup truck. Adios, chick-car. Hello, chick-magnet!

According to the records, the boat is 16.5 feet long. But honestly, it drives really well, like a good 17-footer. I mean, when you're in it you'd swear...

The boat has already been called "cute," "sweet," and I thought I heard someone say "darling," but when I looked around they had turned away and were covering their mouth (a snicker, perhaps?), so I'm pretty sure they were referring to the lancha. I'm glad to see that guys are guys the world over. It restores my faith in humanity.

Seriously, it is kind of small. Three grown men and their dive gear, that's all or we're shipping water over the transom. But at least it is fast, even with that puny 60 h.p. engine (must be light). And it doesn't seem to use much gas at all. So we'll have to see if it sticks around, or if I end up with something slightly bigger.

No matter. For the moment, I have wheels, baby! And you know what? It does make me feel like a kid getting his first car. Now, if I can just keep from crashing it, running aground on the reef, or having it drift away when one of my non-Boy Scout knots comes loose... Now all it needs is a name.

No more "Pilot Bob" for me. You can just call me...well, is "Admiral" too presumptuous?

(*Oh, and by the way, yes I know that the F-15 is not a carrier-based fighter, and the U.S.S Iowa was a battleship. Good on those of you who caught it and were going to give me shit on the "Comments" page. Thank you anyway.)


David said...

Commodore Maybe!
Just wait 'til your bud's haul it and paint it pink!
Afterall, it's just human nature.
Congrats Bob, can't wait for more nautical tales.

La Gringa said...

Hahaha! Men and their toys. Just remember that it isn't the size of the boat, it's what you do with it that counts.

Congratulations, Captain Bob.