Boat Lust
by

Recently, I have been stricken with a terrible affliction: I want a fishing boat.

The sickness took hold of me this a few months ago, and the longing hounds me all hours of the day. I set out early one morning to Fletcher’s Cove, my beloved, nearby fishing hole. The sun was shining, the temperature was pleasant, and a light breeze blew — I was ready to catch shad.

And all the rental rowboats were gone — out on the river and unlikely to come back for many hours. Trying to land shad from the edge of the Potomac River is a fool’s errand in my experience, so I drove home bitterly disappointed. Shad only run for a couple of months at best, and as it happened, rains washed out most of the remaining shad season.

My boat fixation worsened with subsequent angling trips. This past month in Virginia, I scored many bass while shore-fishing. Yet, I found myself wishing I had a boat so I could make my way to the center of the lake where beastly big large-mouths were jumping. With each trip to Fletcher’s I have found myself looking in envy at the guys effortlessly tooling about in Trackers, mini-pontoon boats and the like while I was clumsily oaring a rowboat against the current.

Just to be clear, I don’t want bazillion dollar water-beast with a mega-motor that can skip me over the water at 50 miles per hour. I have no need for a glitzy babe-boat with dizzying galaxy of electronic geegaws.

I want something modest: a low-maintenance, easy-to-transport, basic boat with a small motor that can get me where I am going.  A Jon boat, like Pelican’s Intruder 12, would do very nicely. Just look at those 4 fishing rod holders! I also could be very happy in a Sun Dolphin Pro 120, which has rotating angling seats. Boats like these are light-weight and really low maintenance. I can clean them by spraying them out with a hose.

If I had a hose — which I don’t because I live in an apartment.

And this leads me to the bigger issue: getting a boat is both financially and logistically nuts.

I know this because I have tallied the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

(+ ) I could fish from a boat any hour of the day rather than having to limit oneself from 7 AM to 7 PM, which is when Fletcher’s Cove rents boats.
(+) No more rowing.
(+) I would never be boat-less.
(+) I could motor about and further explore the Potomac River… and other waterways in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area.

Disadvantages

(-) Cost: Renting a boat costs $30. Buying a little one run $500 to $1,500 and another $250 to $300 for the motor and battery. Also, a boat needs to be registered ($25) and it will be taxed at 6% of its purchase price unless it is an inflatable one.
(-) Storage: Where to store the boat? It won’t fit in our apartment’s storage room, and purchasing an extra parking spot for it in the garage would run $75 per month or $900 per year. Marina docking fees are even higher and there are no nearby slips.
(-) Transportation: How the devil do I get the boat to the water? Buy a rack for my minivan and strap it on? Buy a hitch, which would be pricy and necessitate renting an extra parking spot?

Plainly, the costs outweigh the benefits. But I want a boat.

My fishing friend Brian offered two solutions to my conundrum, “Buy a motor and battery.” Certainly that would improve my lot, and its much less expensive. But owning a motor would not prevent me from being boat-less on any given morning. Nor would it allow me the freedom to go on the river any hour I pleased.

He also suggested acquiring inflatable boat. It’s less costly and does not create storage or transportation problems. One also needn’t register it with the government or pay the tax. The Solstice 6 Voyager is sizable and can handle a motor. But arriving at the water’s edge with a rubber, blow-up boat feels dweeby to me — it’s a bit like showing up at a whiskey party with four-pack of Bartles and James coolers. The specter of a treble hook popping the thing in the middle of the Potomac also is unsettling. Unlike a real watercraft, inflatable boats rarely last more than 5 or 7 years, from what I have read.

What to do? Maybe I can convince my wife that we should buy a house by the river. With a dock.

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