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Boating: Boat partnerships Condo Style

April 13, 2011
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Way back when I was still wet behind the ears, I went in partnership with a friend on a boat. It was a disaster after a few years, just about the time we both discovered girls. The 14-foot aluminum fishing boat 'Our Dream' was motor-less at first, and we took turns rowing in and out of secluded coves chasing the elusive game fish.

After a bunch of summer jobs we bought an old outboard and while our neighborhood mechanic was getting it to run reliably, my partner met the mechanics daughter and he never looked back. And that is why I've always been against partners and boats.

I think it is a commonly held belief that one individual should own boats or yachts, but since the condo phase I've had to reconsider. After all, look at the number of boat clubs popping up like mushrooms in my neighbor’s yard.

When 'Bean Town Bernie' offered me a share (20 percent) in a 40-foot sports fish ten years ago, I scoffed. True I couldn't afford a 40-foot sports fish all by myself at the time but I didn't need the hassle, I told myself. Just out of curiosity, I kept track of the condo boat from Hades, but to my surprise it appeared to work.

They refurbished (there word) the entire boat and used my bottom paint on it two or three times. We tied up together several years at the 4th of July fireworks and back when we had offshore powerboat races. They all seemed happy with the arrangement but they had to have been acting.

Then the downturn hit and, as I predicted, the partnership began to unravel. One would think I would have been chest-thumping proud of my correctness but deep inside I was very disappointed. I rarely pass an opportunity to prove to anyone and everyone how smart I am but this partnership wasn't undone by the petty bickering of spouses or the slothful habits of some. The economy was entirely to blame.

Over a beer at the Big Game Waterfront Grill, several of the partners laid out the impending disillusion of the grand experiment. “Bill hasn't turned a shovel of dirt in two years, and he's back living in his old house since the bank took his big one,” said 'Max the Hack'.

“Arnie can't make the maintenance payments, either. His wife was laid off, and they lost their health insurance. Now they're paying over $500 a month for basic family coverage. The twins have braces and his business is way down,” said 'Bean Town Bernie'.

“Geez, that is really too bad,” I said. I meant it and, way down in the back of my mind, I wished I could have helped them. “I can get you some no-color bottom paint at cost. It's the same as the stuff with color but it's a mixture of all the colors.”

“Thanks for the offer but we're going to pull the boat at Glades Boat Storage and try to find some new partners,” said 'Max the Hack'.

“Geez, that's too bad,” I said. Suddenly, I realized that it wasn't just a friendly beer we were sharing. It was an old-fashioned 'time share' pitch that was coming at me like a speeding train. Buy in would be under $20,000 and both of them said they'd take payments.”

I dropped my Buffalo hot chicken wing back onto the basket and looked hard into both their eyes. They didn't have the overwhelming confidence of the time-share salesman that roped us onto the 12th floor of a Fort Lauderdale high rise 35 years ago. Nor bounding optimism of the hired boat show gunners. There eyes spoke of desperation.

I should have said a flat out, emphatic ‘no’ but I didn't. “How bad is the boat?”

“It's the Port engine, we're hoping it's bad fuel or injectors,” said 'Bean Town Bernie'. “And there are a lot of cosmetic things that need done,” said Max.

“You know I retired several years ago and money is tight like it is for all us retired people. Besides, the boat is old and (pregnant pause) what the heck is the appraisal on the boat, anyway?”

“58,000 was what the last survey said and that makes $20,000 way high but it's more what they need than what it really is worth. Do you know anyone who could make them an offer? We'd really like to keep the boat but the way the agreement reads, we may have to sell the boat,” said 'Bean Town Bernie'.

“Let me think on it!” (To Be Continued)

Boatguy Ed is a retired bottom paint maker and is currently a volunteer extra on his son's Boater's Treasures television show that sells half priced dining certificates, Send your comments to!

by boatguy Ed



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