I Bought a Boat

The Rationalization
I blame The Shawshank Redemption. Actually, it might have been my cousin Sterling's fault. He's a real-life treasure ship captain. Oooh, now that I think of it, I think I will blame Christopher Cross, Styx and Crosby Stills and Nash as they pummeled my brain with visions of sailing away into the sunset escaping from or running towards some adventure that included wine, women and song.

Whoever is to blame, the result is that I bought a boat. To quote David Byrne: "MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?"

Ok…Ok… you get it, right? I'm a musician. The fact that I am a musician makes the idea of buying and restoring a boat understandable. Musicians are dreamers by nature, undaunted by reality or logic. We are the ambassadors of possibility; the court jesters for those who own boat yards or actually know how to repair transmissions or weld railings. So… I bought a boat.

The Enchantment
I was on vacation with my family and found myself surfing the boattrader.com website for fun. I stumbled upon a 1968 Hatteras that was for sale on the very Island I was on. My geographical good fortune was trumped only by the incredibly low price they were asking for this fine vessel. I have a friend on the island who owns a pristine 62 ft Buddy Davis. I talked him into checking this boat out with me. His initial reaction should have turned me off this thing but I was in LOVE.

The broker warned me that one engine wasn't working and the other hadn't started in a while. I was certain that with the help of my best friend (who just happens to be one of the greatest mechanics in the world) we could easily fix whatever minor problems that plagued these old Detroit 871's and soon be on our way to boating nirvana.

I gave myself a week to think it over and had almost forgotten all about it when the broker called. The conversation went something like this:

"Hey Edwin, are you thinking about making an offer on the boat?" he asked.

I consider myself a shrewd and tactful negotiator so I pulled out the big guns and said, "How about half the asking price?"

"SOLD!" he said.

My heart sank. Holy Cow, they just took a lowball offer on what was already a salvage price. Yikes. I quickly called a friend who used to be a boat broker and asked in a panic if the 1968 Hatteras I just bought was worth what I paid for it. His response was, "Is it on fire?" Somewhat comforted in the fact that the Hull was worth my purchase price, I set out on what has been a great adventure. I own a boat.

The Reality
First of all, don't ever start any restoration project with equity in mind. Owning a boat is never going to be a hobby that pays for itself in any way. After working on this boat for days outside the former owner's house, we were unable to repair anything enough to move her under her own power. Since the agreed upon date of departure was looming, I decided to call Boat U.S. (www.boatus.com) and have her towed to a boat yard in Savannah. The tow captain, whose name I have pushed down into a dark place and is now escaping me, began to tell me his story of a "deal too good to be true" restoration just like mine. He laughed at me openly every time we spoke and I am sure is still telling his friends about that damn fool and his Hatteras. I own a boat.

The Naming
My oldest son and I have a game of tag we play with each other that includes smacking each other on the butt while running by. He snuck up on me, popped me and then turned to run. As he turned, he ran into a wall and I said, "Ha, instant karma." My middle son, who was 4 at the time, overheard me and said,"Yeah, instant karla." That was the moment we named Her.

Most people start out restoring a canoe or a row boat that is special because they remind them of lazy days on the lake with friends and family. I have chosen as my first restoration project a 50ft, 44,000 pound leviathan which we have affectionately named Instant Karla. I own a boat.

The Redemption
I have always believed I can do anything. I jump into whatever dream I have with both feet and figure it out as I go. If I can't do something, I find someone who knows how to get it done and ask for help. Some of my greatest friendships have been made this way. Karla is no different.

I started to just patch her up just enough to get her livable and then I read the story of Hatteras and its founder Willis Slane. Google him and you will find a perfect American story. This boat is the result of one man's desire to build a better vessel that could withstand the treacherous waters off Cape Hatteras. He didn't know how to build boats but he believed in himself and knew how to ask for help.

This boat represents the best America has to offer. Detroit Diesel, Michigan Wheel, Morse Cable, Cummins/Onan generators and all the craftsmen who worked on her in High Point, NC. As I read about this man I felt even more connected to Karla and what she really is. She is the spirit of innovation and determination from a time when a little muscle and spit mixed in with some shuck and jive showmanship could deliver the dream to thousands and thousands of people. I own a boat.

This boat has a soul. I'm gonna save it.

Edwin McCain
Boat Owner


For more information, contact: management(a)edwin.com

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