Sunday, December 27, 2009

Boats,Beer and Country Music

Even though schools are out for the winter break teachers like my wife and Josh seen here, spend time sorting out paperwork and programs during their "down time." I was fiddling with my blog and Cheyenne was napping. All of which was soon rudely interrupted by Josh who said he needed my help fixing his boat. I abandoned my comfortable hearth, my wife and my dog and took off for some outdoor adventure.I rode my Bonneville over to Josh's place where we hitched his Nissan to his boat and made another trip, this time over to Brett's place where the work was to be done.
For Josh this was manual labor that indicated school work was on the back burner for a few precious days. He bought the boat earlier this year, a machine in need of some attention and as he is all theory Josh the scientist said he wanted a project boat "to learn on."
Or drink beer on:
Brett was pottering about on his boat in his driveway. He too is a teacher and was using the break to think about things other than schoolwork. This all took place in the days leading up to Christmas, this outdoors Florida Boat project and you can tell winter was closing in by virtue of Brett's long sleeved t-shirt, which rates as heavy winter wear around here. He was busy mocking me for wearing a full-on woolly sweatshirt:
Brett has more than one boat and I think this 28-foot Mako is the middle of them and for my money quite large enough considering the 250 horsepower outboard:
First we got Josh to back into the driveway:
Under the watchful eye of one of his cats:
Josh had to install new fuel hoses, so the first order of business was to lay on his back and start grovelling around the transom. Hot sweaty December work:
I refrained from catching the plumber's cleavage as they struggled and swore at the hose. and I stood around with camera in hand thinking about my own boat ownership: I decided when my wife and I sold our Gemini sailing catamaran, to buy a small simple skiff to tie up at the dock behind our house. Our 14-foot (4 meter) Dusky has no lights or electronic equipment, which means there is very little to break, especially as we put a new 25 hp outboard on two years ago. Josh had his 1996 Evinrude rebuilt but the fuel he felt was too stale to use anymore. So they emptied the fuel tank:
Josh looked up with a beatific grin on his face, a screwdriver in his greasy hand. "God," he said, " it just doesn't get any better than this. Boats beer and country music!" He nodded at the speaker blaring Conch Country selections from a local radio station by that name. When he said that I knew I had the basis of an essay for my blog somewhere in this afternoon's activities. Besides now that he had established our bona fides as boat mechanics he started to even look like he knew what he was doing:
With fresh fuel hoses in place the steering was the next project. You've got to be able to steer a boat and this one had a seized cable, so Josh decided he had a hammer-worthy project. First he and Brett tried to pry the cable loose with some grips. That failed.Josh used to be an artilleryman in the US Marines so he figured this was the right moment to get out the big guns:
It was a matter of whacking and greasing the cable until it broke loose. And then it was time to fire up the outboard. "Er..." Josh said, uncapping another Yuengling and looking like a really naughty schoolboy. "I've left the keys at home." Brett was floored. he had been looking forward to proving how cool the boat work had been by actually firing up the Evinrude and proving the value of a winter afternoon's work. It was not to be. Boat work was over for the afternoon.Brett has a home in the Lower Keys of the type that fills me with wonder. It's not particularly luxurious or anything, it's just ideally suited to canal side living for a man that likes to use his hands. Josh says he has the best man room he has ever seen:
It is a small walk in closet kind of a room with tons of tools of every description, projects in progress on the work benches, a refrigerator filled, and a toilet to dispose of used beer. Everything in short a beer drinking, cigar smoking teacher needs on his time off while using his hands and doing useful things.
Night had fallen, it was time to clean up and take a moment to reflect on manly things. So we hosed down dirt, collected oils and rags and assembled tools.
We were going to leave Josh's boat in the driveway for the night, so Josh could come back with the keys in the morning (he forget them again, sad to say but Brett made him go home and get them!) and start his long silent outboard. It looked ready to go and just needed the prop to make it completely viable.We repaired to the "basement" and popped a beer or two and sprawled. I threw the odd languid dart, Brett told stories about his recently deceased retriever Max who used to own the local canals, leaping off seawalls, swimming, chasing balls and being a big butch alpha dog. The reminiscences were tempered by the obvious sense of loss even though the dog has been dead for four years. I could understand that. (Cheyenne did not spend the afternoon with us because a)she is a girl and b) Brett's cats might not appreciate her).
We didn't go down to Brett's waterside tiki hut which is equipped with a bar and television. we simply enjoyed the cool night air with a beer, good companionship and the knowledge of a manly job pretty well done. I don't do this kind of male bonding very often but done right it can be satisfying. Done on a winter's evening in Florida you get to understand something most people in the other lower 47 states don't understand at all: Florida is a great place to live- as long as it's the Keys!