It’s my dad’s birthday in a week, and I have no idea what to get him. Without fail, I get to the same point each year at a complete loss as to what he’d like. Christmas is generally not a problem because we have a family secret santa, and mum always rigs it so that one of dad’s brothers gets his name out of the hat. And for Fathers’ Day, I just take him out for lunch. On his birthday, though, there are expectations that I’m perpetually unprepared to meet.
It’s not my fault. He’s not clear in communicating what he likes, although he’s always been happy to pontificate at length on what he doesn’t like. He’s always hopping between hobbies, too, swaying like grass in the wind between woodwork, restoring old motors and building ponds.
His current thing is boats, so I should probably just get on with it and buy him something related to that. But he has a habit of expecting would-be gift givers to know as much about his current area of interest as he does, despite the fact that he’s useless at communicating about it. It’s infuriating!
I know what’s going to happen. I’ll spend ages finding a store that sells, say, stainless steel snapper racks. He’ll find something about them that’s not quite right – even if they’re top of the line and selected as per the make of his boat. Then I’ll have to find someone to fix them to his liking, and traipse out to a place that does custom marine welding. Melbourne might not be that hard a place in which to find such a service, but it’s not on my usual circuit, that’s for sure.
If dad just told me straight out what he wanted, I could save myself a lot of fuss and bother, along with my father’s rejection of my gift in its original state. I guess it’s easiest if I just think of it as me giving him the gift of something to complain about.
I’m not sure how I feel about the commodification of the boating industry. First it’s everyone commuting on boats because they think it’s cool, and that I can just about tolerate. At least they’re doing so respectfully and giving boating a boost, even though I don’t think they’re REAL boating fans. It’s just a bit of a fad, and then in six months you’ll have a bunch of broke uni students trying to sell of their boats.
But now I find out that there’s a long-running TV show where people just name boat parts, and where they’re from, and it makes me unhappy. Melbourne’s outboard motor services are serious business. SUPER serious business. I watched a few episodes of the show, and while it’s very impressive that they can name boat parts, and where they’re from, the whole thing feels tired. In all the episodes I watched, there seemed to be about three parts that people were naming. Just anchor winches, outboard motors…and others. It’s like the show was started by someone really passionate about boating, but sometime in the last three decades they left and now it’s just still going because someone from on high keeps saying “well, we have nothing else to air, so do the thing about the boat parts where they stick their hands through the walls.”
I’d imagine it’d be the same if you’re one of those people into motorbikes, and you stumble across a tired old show where people just look at bikes and name the model, and it’s clear that no one working on it has any passion. I love boats, and I love their parts, and this doesn’t seem right.
Melbourne’s best quality outboard motor repairs deserve much better than this. I mean, at least a prime-time slot where an actual expert roams around the docks with a camera crew, talking about various aspects of boat mechanics and their jobs. That is, an expert who cares. Like me…
OH. MY. MAINSAIL.
So strange how Week of Our Lives is having so many episodes set at sea recently. With that recent dramatic return of the fellow lost at sea, you’d think they’d continue that plot-line, but they actually solved it in one episode (it was his twin brother trying to extort everyone and find the key to their grandfather’s safe, where he kept the deed to an ancient jade mine in the heart of China. Quelle intrigue!)
But for now, they’ve returned to the sea for a set of episodes based around Marlucia and her efforts to gain her Ocean Master qualification, impressing the ghost of her dead sea captain father who may or may not be actually haunting her. Half the forums think it’s in her head, and I’m not sure myself.
Anyway, she’s stuck on the outboard motor. Services in Melbourne have to be, like, UP there. Top-notch. Ahead of the game, and all that. Marlucia is a smart girl, especially since she escaped her orphanage aged only two years old using an elaborate duplicate of herself made from paper cups and string, and also a stray pigeon that she was able to feed laxatives. But in terms of motors, I think Marlucia has always struggled with technology because of that flashback we saw of her growing up in the Tibetan monastery, where they beat her whenever she made an internet reference. She escaped to an Albajerian monastery by climbing over the mountains, but in the here and now, outboard motors are her greatest downfall. But they’re the last step in earning her Ocean Master badge at the behest of her maybe-dead maybe-a-hallucination sea captain father! And if she doesn’t have the badge, how can she enter the secret society and join the hunt for the lost treasure of Emmeline Pankhurst, hidden in a salt tomb underneath the Dead Sea??
She’d better get onto the case of places that do outboard motor repairs and servicing in Melbourne, and hopefully find a wise sensei who’ll help with all her problems. It usually works like that, anyway.
Have you ever been hit over the head with a fishing rod? I have. I didn’t think I’d ever be admitted to hospital with concussion from a fishing-rod related incident, but there you go…life is just full of surprises.
The Annual Book Club Fishing Trip has always been a time of great peace, much like actual book club meetings. I suggested it years ago as a way to get the club outdoors, but also not have anyone shy away due to intense physical activity. I figured…well, I know about fishing rod holders and boat types and the whole industry, and everyone’s just going to spend the whole time reading anyway, so why not? And it was a success! It actually brought people into the book club, since everyone wanted a piece of the action. Not much ‘action’, but…well, i think it became pretty far known that we were a book club with a twist. I got all my book friends into fishing, the club grew, and so eventually we had over seventy people lining up for the fishing trip. And all I did was suggest we study ‘Catch of the Day: A History of Rod Holders’. I just thought everyone would like to learn more about the industry, you know? But someone started a massive argument over whether plate alloy boats were a better and more efficient option than traditional wooden ones. Things flared up, and to be honest, I think there was a lot of tension this year after the whole coffee spill incident. The fuse was lit…and then Anthea just blurted out that she’d always thought that ‘To Kill a Mocking Nerd’ was THE worst book ever written. You know, the most polarizing book in the club’s entire history. There was no going back. The battle raged across boats. I tried to stop it, but 92-year-old Bert Willsby smacked me over the head with his fishing rod and sent me to hospital.
I just…wanted people to learn about fishing, snapper racks and the joys of reading on the water. I never wanted this.
There are a great many materials that aren’t good for boats. Paper is definitely one of them…but after yesterday’s fiasco, everyone knows that. It still happens every year, we try to tell them not to, but…they still do it! What a joy, year after year.
Still, I feel like boats are steadily growing more and more obscure every year. Maybe that’s because they’re a bit of a commitment, and the whole world now runs on activities that can be completed with your butt in a seat. Still…it’s not exactly a golden age of boating. Ask your average person in Melbourne about anchor winch maintenance, and they won’t really know because they’ve never been taught. It seems as if the only way you know about boating culture is if you were born into it.
Maybe I’m wrong, and that’s just the way it’s always been. Or maybe I’m projecting! Perhaps my love of the sea is clouding my judgement, and I just think everyone should like the same things as me. Still, I really do genuinely believe that people are missing out. There’s no feeling quite like cruising around a bay in your very own vessel, or even just going for a ride in someone else’s. For creatures with no real swimming ability compared to the species that live in the sea, it sure does feel right to be out there, with the wind in your face and the sea spray all around. People have always loved the sea; it’s why so many cities are built right next to them. Well, that and trade.
Okay, so maintaining your own boat is a chore at times. Melbourne based outboard motor repairs companies are pretty good, though…it’s not like you won’t find someone to help you out.
I don’t know. I just think everyone should try owning a boat, or at least getting down to the docks every once in awhile. You’ll almost certainly have a great time.