It had been several years since we had a boat in the family and dad wanted to enjoy his retirement by fishing as often as possible. Some of my fondest memories were of us catching snapper in the Florida Keys and dolphin in the Gulf Stream, and now with two kids of my own I wanted my boys to have the same experiences.
With the economy in a slump there was no shortage of pre-owned boats on the market. Dad and I looked at countless ads and searched the web high and low for a boat that would be a perfect fit for our family. Knowing I would be operating the boat most of the time I thought I had a big say in the decision, but there was one particular center-console that he couldn’t get out of his head. She was more than 20 years old, and from the first moment I laid eyes on her I knew she was nothing but trouble. Dad on the other hand was in love with her, and since this was about making him happy I tried my best to conceal my negativity even though the seller didn’t hide the fact that the motors were in poor condition.
We kept searching, all the while dad kept going back to this same center-console. In his mind the decision was already made, even though I kept hinting to the fact that we should keep looking. I tried to convince him otherwise, but after a marine surveyor inspected the vessel and determined there were no major structural issues he struck a deal with the owner and we were now proud boat owners. I wish I could tell you that the rest of the story is what dreams are made of, but unfortunately we had no idea of the amount of trouble we had just gotten ourselves into.
Over the course of the next two months we spent a total of 45 minutes of enjoyment on the boat. Not because of scheduling, rather due to the boat’s numerous problems. The first catastrophe was a blown power head. The next issue was a sticky throttle, and then there was a major oil leak. Several repairs and thousands of dollars later and we were once again ready to hit the high seas. It is sad to say, but we had yet to catch a single fish on the boat. However, things were about to change.
It was shaping up to be a beautiful Saturday as we headed offshore hoping to capitalize on recent reports of a hot dolphin bite. The boat was performing flawlessly and on our way out we found a well-defined weedline. Within 30 minutes we had dolphin in the cooler and smiles across the board. This is what we had dreamed of, with three generations of family enjoying time together doing what we all love.
Shockingly, after icing down the fish I noticed the stern was listing. I opened the bilge and to my amazement found the compartment full of seawater. The bilge pump was working at maximum capacity, yet the water level wasn’t dropping. Not wanting to alarm anyone I suggested we start trolling back toward the inlet, but after a few minutes I came to the realization that we had a serious problem on our hands. Trying to remain calm I instructed everyone to put on a life jacket and get to the bow. I made a distress call to SeaTow and let them know the severity of the situation. We were going down.
In a single swift blow a wave broke over the transom and the boat capsized, tossing everyone into the water. Fortunately, a nearby boater pulled us all to safety. While in a daze I bobbed around the surface while holding on to a floating cooler. I stayed with the boat to the end, until she eventually sank to her final resting place. While the situation certainly could have been much worse and I’m sincerely thankful no one was injured, I can’t help but think to myself, I told you so!