Bay Reflections
Vol. 9, No. 23
June 7-13, 2001
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It’s Not the Boat That Costs Your Kids’ Inheritance … It’s the Parts
By Allen Delaney

Most people wrongly assume that Bill Gates, Mr. Microsoft, is a gazillionarie because his software is prevalent throughout the world, except in countries such as Klrtzbrg, which are so poor that they can't afford vowels much less computers. The real reason Gates is overflowing with cash is that he's never purchased a boat.

Then there are the rest of us. We drooled over the ads showing a 38-foot cigarette boat screaming across an empty lake, being piloted by a tan, chiseled guy seated next to a young woman happily displaying her floatation devices. We bought into the myth that all boat ramps are empty on weekend afternoons, never realizing that they would actually have the fun and charm of an alcohol-fueled prison riot. We thought our kids would enjoy wholesome family outings of skiing and tubing on a deserted, waveless lake, instead of hanging their heads over the gunwale feeding the fish, begging to go home so they can finish their school report on James K. Polk.

But mostly, we swallowed hook, line and anchor the lure that boating is affordable fun for the whole family. What we failed to realize is that this claim is incomplete. The boat marketers left out the last portion, except for the endless accessories and maintenance needed to keep your purchase from sinking like an over-touted tech stock.

So you raided your retirement fund and shelled out $234.55 for a down payment on a new boat, which will be yours free and clear in a scant 57 years. Only after the papers were signed and your home turned over as collateral did the salesman mention that your boat may need a few extras, most of which are required by law. Your heartfelt elation suddenly heads south, where it transforms into a lump of sour pudding.

These extras include trailer, license, anchor, radio, flares, compass, cushions, life vests, bow ropes, registration fees, oil, boat hook, polish, marine grease, dock bumpers, bimini top and first aid kit - all of which can be purchased by selling one of your wife's kidneys.

Since wives, especially mine, are usually reluctant to help in such matters, you have no recourse but to return the boat or rob the kids' college fund. It's a difficult decision, but you're sure the kids will see there's no shame in learning a trade. After all, they're going to be having too much fun feeding the fish to think about higher education.

Once your cash is depleted and your credit is stretched to the limit - along with your patience after the two and half hours it takes to back the trailer into the driveway - you find your new boat needs a few parts to replace the ones that fell off during the ride home. This is when you painfully learn about a rare substance, which most boat parts are made from, called Marine Stainless Steel.

Regular stainless steel is different from Marine Stainless Steel the way a photograph of the Mona Lisa is different from the original. As indicated by its price, Marine Stainless Steel is obviously mined on Jupiter. It is used by the boating industry because of its high shine capability, its superb tolerance to temperature extremes and its ability to withstand a nuclear explosion. The only element this rare metal is susceptible to is water, particularly saltwater.

If you want to keep your new boat functioning flawlessly, never put it in water. But if you insist on actually using your boat for more than a lawn ornament, then be prepared to spend your inheritance on boat parts made of Marine Stainless Steel. The good news is that NASA believes that a closer planet, Mars, has a high concentration of Marine Stainless Steel since the planet is the same color as rust. This explains the recent interest our space agency has had in Earth's neighbor.

NASA knows the only way to complete the International Space Station is to finance it by harvesting the ore used to manufacture Marine Stainless Steel. Since Mars is much closer to Earth than Jupiter, the price of the metal should increase by 25 cents per ton. That's the bad news. You'd think it would be less expensive, but NASA, after all, is part of the Federal Government.

So, if you own a boat or you're on the way to purchase one, remember one thing: Don't beg for money while you're at the marina; there's too much competition. Your key to a comfortable retirement is to steer your children into the marine parts business, and then let them support you while they hobnob with the likes of Bill Gates and other billionaires.

Just make sure they never buy a boat.

Allen Delaney laughs from Prince Frederick, where he works days as a computer network analyst.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly