Doug Nabham’s Coming Here
My doctor buddy was swimming laps next to me and mentioned he was in the market for a boat and recently had gone to a boat show. First, there is no better feeling on earth knowing that you are not going to a boat show. That means you have a boat with which you are happy.
I devoted the next 40 minutes of swimming to thinking about the experience of buying a boat. Of course, every boating lesson I have learned has been painful, so I promised Foster I would do my best to enumerate some of my favorites in an effort to help him not have to suffer quite as much as I have over the years.
I simply gave him no advice on what boat to get, as that is a mistake you are entitled to make on your own. I did tell him most boaters agree the more manageable the boat, the more you will use it. The editor of Boating World wrote a column where he admitted that he owned a 12-foot aluminum boat with a dinky outboard. He loves it and takes it out all the time.
Once you have actually purchased the boat, you have actually just begun. As I told my buddy, boating is an activity that provides moments of great joy and beauty surrounded by an endless amount of work to put you into making those great moments.
As I was towing my new boat home and entering the Bay Bridge Tunnel, my wife asked me if I had gotten insurance for the boat. We all know what the answer was, and that tunnel ride seemed very long until I could get on my cell and get coverage.
Remember that buying a boat is like buying a car that only has a motor and a key. You have to get everything else from a myriad of vendors. Some of the things I will advise you to get do not make sense, but trust me when I say, “Having a second prop would have really come in handy that day.” I never leave home without a spare prop and a nut and wrench.
The next “subset” of things you need is the safety stuff that the Coast Guard requires you to have. It is a lot of stuff, but you must have life preservers, flares, whistle, a throw cushion and all the other stuff that might come in handy. The real pain is the flares, which seem to go out of date faster than a quart of milk.
I have a waterproof box that has a medicine kit, goggles and a knife to clear fishing line that gets wrapped around everything. I also included some minor medicine—things like Imodium. You should also make sure you have a way to get yourself or someone else back in the boat if they fall out. This can be handy if they drank too much, or you did not know how to operate your trim tabs.
Next you will need lots of radios. You will need a radio to call someone to tow you in, and you will need a radio to play music (unless you are a fisherman, who would never be caught dead playing music). People with sailboats play a lot of music to fill up the time as they travel a mile in just under a week.
You will need to learn a little etiquette about the radio. First, you have to learn how to do a radio check because if you are trying to get help and no one can hear you, then that is a waste of time. For example, my boat is named “Bayrab,” so you turn the radio on Channel 16 and hit the talk button and say, “Radio check, radio check, come back Bayrab.” If you get no response, no one hears you or your radio does not work. If someone acknowledges you, then you know you stand a chance of getting help.
You also will want to think about contingencies. One of those space blankets in case you have to sleep on a pier all night because you misjudged the water depth before you went to dinner. A bathing suit and goggles come in handy if you have to go overboard to try to cut fishing line off the bottom of your boat.
Now, after you do and pay for all of this stuff, you are in a position to go for a boat ride.
Douglas M. Nabhan is a lawyer with the firm of Williams Mullen in Richmond and has had a weekend home in Deltaville for 18 years.