Time to clear away the letters and e-mails. The snowbirds are back, and they are big writers so we need to sweep out the in-box. Lets go!
- Dear boatguy: Do you have a published bio anywhere. I think I know you from high school, but need to know where and when you grew up? Signed 'U 1st'.
- Dear First: I'm onto you! What part of Nigeria are you from. You have me pegged as an easy mark. You want me to help you, the minister of finance, to sneak a treasure out of your country, BUT I must send you a small transfer fee of $1,500. Somehow that transfer and several others will get screwed up, and I must keep sending you more and more money.
Somehow, we became great e-mail friends and you weaseled your way into the lonely old boatguy's heart by asking about the grandkids and how a lonely old guy like me gets along. Maybe you could help with women and that sort of stuff. Just as long as the bank account lasts! No thanks. If I'm wrong, I'll see you at the reunion, and we can lift a glass and have a laugh. If I'm right, you should shove it, Babu!
- BG: Who makes the best bottom paint? Ha ha, just kidding because I know you do! Happy Paint Customer.
- Dear Happy: You must be a relative or a very discerning boater because you have it right. I didn't come up with the formula for 'Shipbottom' paint, Jack Jones did. He was a retired Chemist for City Oil in Philly who told me that no matter how much cardboard he put down every April, he still got up with a wet back from painting his boat bottom. He wanted a multi-seasonal paint.
He was a terrible marketer and the name proved it, 'Shipbottom Bottom Paint'? He was in his 70s when I met him at the Tampa Boat Show. His booth was constructed from refuse he found in his garage and a lighted scrolling sign that was going by so quickly that I, nor anyone else, could read it.
There they were, Jack and Dodie Jones. She was knitting, and he was eating sardines out of a can with saltine crackers, which made him very unpopular with his booth mates.
"Don't get up," I said, I don't want to interrupt your lunch." And he didn't! I waited until the last stinky fish had been consumed before he would tell me about his paint. He used technical names and industry terms that would confuse most boaters, but I understood and came to believe he had a good product.
Jack gave me a gallon of red. He hadn't sold any and probably wouldn't. I was a working Marine manufacturers rep and promised to test the paint on my boat. If it worked, I'd become his southeast representative. A month later, I hauled my boat and put Trinidad (my favorite up to that point) on most of the boat. I put the 'Shipbottom' paint on the stern quarter and launched the boat in mid-May.
When I hauled the boat in September, everything was a little slimy but there wasn't a barnacle on either paint. 'Shipbottom' was at least as good as 'Trinidad' so I never looked back. Jack passed away in 1992 and his son took over production for a year. When I started making 'Shipbottom' in 1994, I added the word 'Super' because it was super.
I had visions of selling the company to a big conglomerate but Jack hadn't formulated 'Shipbottom' for them. It is a very hard paint to make (11 ingredients), but through negotiations with them, they learned how effective it is and that is why they market so aggressively against us. So, like the proverbial frog, we just keep bumping along.
- Dear boatguy: When are you going to bring back that television show that sold half-priced dining coupons? We thought your son was a very good host, and we really appreciated the deals. We told everybody in our complex and most became fans. Any chance? Signed Hungry on Fort Myers Beach.
- Dear Hungry: It don't look good for a return. All of the sponsors have moved on, either to Groupon or away from television advertising. "Boater's Treasures TV" aired on two Comcast channels so the viewership was low. Just as in your case, neighbor told neighbor told neighbor. Sometimes the people calling didn't watch the show, and we had to institute safeguards. Inherent problems with humans eroded the advertisers' trust when people demanded cash back or extra discounts.
Some restaurants went to Groupon or clones who took a $25 coupon, sold them for half and then returned half of that to the restaurant or other business. "Boater's Treasures TV" traded television time for the $6.25 per coupon or $62.50 a week that Groupon returned. I thought it was a good deal and you did too, but because of problems, the restaurants moved on. Hope that helps you understand.
- PS: Great seeing all of you at the Christmas boat parade. I took down all your questions and comments on cocktail napkins. Now if I could only find them?
Boatguy Ed is a past Commodore of the Dead End Canal Yacht Club, a manufacturer of marine products especially Super Shipbottom Anti-fouling bottom paint (www.supershipbottom.com) and an avid boater. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't ever try to buy him a drink.