The Adventure Begins

The Adventure Begins
Skinny Dippin'

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hello Everyone!

Hello everyone, Tom here. I suppose that because Bess went to all the trouble to setup a blog for our boat, Skinny Dippin’ then give me posting access, I might as well post something here and shine a light on what my contributions will be to this newest adventure. Having never done any blogging before, I am not sure where to start. So, maybe a little history and background would be as good a place to start as any.

Born and raised in Raleigh, NC, I was first exposed to boating in the mid-seventies at Camp Seagull – a YMCA camp located on the Neuse River just a few miles west of Oriental, NC at Minnesott Beach. In three years at Camp Seagull, I discovered my enjoyment for boats and my interest in tinkering with engines.

After my third and final year of camp (1976 if memory serves) my father, somehow, found out they were replacing the ski boat fleet. He purchased one of the ski boats from Seagull for $950 and named her Yellow Jacket. She was a bright yellow cathedral-hull boat with a 50 horsepower Mercury outboard. For the next several years I was able to boat around Bouge Sound from our vacation home in Emerald Isle. My father gave me a lot of latitude and I spent many days running up and down the ICW from Morehead City to Swansboro alone. There was no parental supervision and the freedom to do just about anything I wanted. She was a wonderful family boat for many years. He has only just recently sold her away without my knowledge.

My mechanical skills slowly matured, but even today I am not any sort of expert. Jack of all trade… Master of none, basically. Over the years I learn by necessity. As a broke student and pizza delivery guy in the 80’s, I found that paying someone to fix my broken car was a waste of money and the fun and satisfaction of getting dirty replacing a water pump or clutch was quite nice. I never held any significant jobs in the field because I thought it would taint the experience and the joy of it all.

Fast forward to 2009 - This whole boating idea was originally Bess’ idea. I had never really worked on marine engines before. While looking at potential candidates for our first “real” boat, I peered into the engine rooms. I had more than a few panic attacks seeing those giant diesel Cat 3208s or 7-liter MerCruiser engines looming silently below deck. All of the alien systems tangled to them I couldn't help but think, “What the hell am I going to do with all that?” Diesels were also one of those things that I have never been exposed to before and I wasn’t going to begin my boating life feeling overwhelmed by the primary thing I have to take care of.

That’s why Skinny Dippin’ was such a great find. She’s a big little boat. At 35’ and galley-down, there is a lot of room for a guy like me to work in her full-width salon. The single 135 horsepower motor (the boat did have an option for twin screws), she chugs along at a comfortable 7.5 knots, however, with just the one engine, I can learn all I need to know about older diesels and have lots of room to crawl around. And of course, the added benefit of lower operating costs. (an argument for another time)

Over the course of this blog, I plan to just post things as I learn them… and I have a lot to learn about boats and their unique systems. Fixing my own stuff for all of these many years makes the learning curve much less steep and of course and if any of you have anything to add or help me out of the jams I’ll certainly get myself into. Please feel free to comment or email me about it.

That’s about it for now. Thanks.

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