THE FIRST TIME I SAW DAYS OFF was around 1997, when she came into my shop with a no-start issue. She was a 19-foot Sea Ray cuddy, standard off-white hull with blood-red highlights. The owner was a local, an older guy with a thick Italian accent and a station wagon full of kids. I did a lower-unit service and tune-up, and they
were on their way to Lake George for their summer vacation. The owner told me
they only used the boat once a year. I don’t know why I was impressed with that
boat. At the time I was into fishing machines or boats that went too fast for their
own good, but I remembered her, and she ended up coming back to me.
Three years ago, I got a call from my friend Billy. He’d just picked up a boat and it needed
an engine. I was the guy to call: I spent most of my life building engines and was more than
happy to help an old friend. The boat got its engine, went in the water, and a few weeks later
Billy moved away down to the Virginia coast, taking the boat with him. I’d never even seen
this new boat of his.
Billy and his family ended back up North the next fall. The boat had had a few problems,
and my phone was ringing again. I got to see the boat and darn if it wasn’t Days Off Didn’t
look much different than she did last time I saw her. I helped Billy get the engine up and
running again, but a few weeks later the boat ended up on a shoal with the prop shaft split in
Changing a boat’s
name is easy, with
a little help from
two. Billy called to tell me the boat had to go.
He just couldn’t put another dime into her.
I’d just sold my latest project, so I bought
Days Off from Billy, replaced the outdrive,
hydraulics, and a host of other things. We’ve
used her for the last two years with no complaints and she’s a good boat. The grandkids
love her, and the kids all fight about who’s
next on the boat. My pet name for my wife
has been “Jenny” or “Mrs. Gump,” after
Forrest Gump’s love interest (which, yep,
would make me Forrest), so I decided to
change the boat’s name to Jenny.
I Googled “changing your boat’s name”
and there were pages and pages of history
and superstitions. History I get, but superstition? I drive the same road, to the same
ramp, most of the time, and have for 20
years. There’s a railroad trestle just down the
road and I always honk my horn as I pass
under. Once on the way out for safe passage,
STYLES CHARTING THEIR OWN COURSE BY JACK GILBERT