Six months had passed and I could take it no more. I penned this note to my friend, marine counselor and yacht broker, Jon Burkard.
“Dear Jon, after enduring the scorn of the Admiral (wife, Nelia) for months, I am now convinced that I cannot avoid destiny. … There will be no lobster boat, no center console; forget the Huckins 44 Atlantic. … In fact none of the boats I have lusted for over the years will ever again cause my weak mind to wander. Please consider Anhinga off the market.”
Jon was relieved and proposed that we outfit Anhinga — with Heineken — and dispatch her to Islamorada for patrol duty. Six months earlier when I had begged him to help me unload her he had resisted. “You two are a couple. … Good God, man, your children grew up on that boat.” When I insisted, he was blunt. “The Admiral will court-martial both of us!” Reluctantly, he promised he would hang his “for sale” shingle from her side, so I emptied her bowels of our personal effects and put on her makeup. I was on the prowl for a new ride.
I left Anhinga in Jon’s hands and spent the summer ashore drooling over what the Admiral refers to as the “girly pages” — Yachting’s brokerage section. She refused to play along so I tried appealing to her Scottish (frugal) heritage. “Imagine a lobster boat, Dear, painted with a broom and cleaned by the occasional rain shower — a single diesel. It’s back to the basics — we’d save a fortune.” Not!
I attempted romance. “How about a Jupiter 31 — just you and I — young again? We could fish with no crew (kids) and drop the hook at five-star resorts. I’m sure we could think of something better to do than keeping watch?” In desperation I tried the yacht club card. “How about the Huckins 44 Atlantic? We’d look great in Newport. If Anhinga sells we’ll be close,” I suggested. (OK … I lied.)
I called Jon to see if Anhinga’s debut in the market had sparked a bidding war. Certainly savvy yachtsmen had recognized that she was a gold-plater in a fleet of sorry, salt-soured sleds. They must have formed a line to fight for her charms. Jon’s report was grim. Not even a lowball offer from a bottom-dragger. I was dumbfounded! “Calm down … give it time,” began Jon, sounding a bit like Dr. Phil. “This is a tough market — the buying season is a few months away.”
“A few months away?” I gasped. I suspected Jon was stalling me with broker chatter and hoping I’d have a change of heart. I figured it was all or nothing at all. “It’s time to lower the price,” I announced, feeling my stomach turn. This was a sign of true commitment since if she sold I wouldn’t pocket enough cash to afford a deck boat with a charcoal grill.
Then I stumbled upon Anhinga in Yachting’s “porn section.” Jeez, she was hot! I tried to ignore the calculator in my head that was totaling the investment her poor schlub of an owner had made … Murray Products fighting chair, watermaker, satellite phone, custom tackle center — she was loaded. Her Cats had new heads — they’d be good for another 10,000 hours of pleasure. “Owner motivated” ... hell ... this owner must be desperate! Then I cringed: The poor schlub was me!
After penning my note to Jon I loaded 20 years of Anhinga’s yard bills into the dumpster. “We’re starting over,” I announced as the Admiral watched with relief. I found Anhinga where I had left her, but the “for sale” sign with Jon’s smiling face and phone number was nowhere to be found. It then occurred to me that the ad should have read, “Owner nuts — broker wise!” Thanks, Jon!