There comes a time in every devoted boater's life when you have to consider making some changes. You feel it in your bones. It hangs over you like an impenetrable fog at the mile buoy on the outside. After waiting it out and nothing is changing, you resort to your gut instincts and trust your experience. You then slowly and carefully enter the inlet into calmer waters if the tide and wave conditions are in your favor and you’ve taken every precaution possible. That’s the best way to describe it when life calls you to adjust your seafaring life.
I’ve had a really good run of over fifty years and a half dozen ocean ready boats. All good ones and all named Drifter, sequenced by the numbers “1, 2, 3, etc. The name was a meld of the technique of fishing for fluke, shark, bluefish and bass, by turning off the engine and letting current and wind push the boat while the rods were deployed. Other than employing outriggers for tuna and trolling, it has been my premier style of fishing all these years. I must admit that there was some influence of Clint Eastwood in that name, as I loved his movie “High Plains Drifter”!
I have mentioned in other articles I have written that I always hated the attitude that “the two best days of boating are when you buy the boat and when you sell the boat”! Anyone who espouses that attitude was never really into boating. It was just an affectation to them that wore off. A real boater could never feel that way. Why? Because they love the roll of the sea under their hull, the wind and salt air in their face on a chilly fall day and the graciousness of an ever changing sky above them, they love the challenge of the inlet, the excitement of preparing for a storm and the beauty of logger head turtles, whales and ocean water clear as glass. It’s rarely about cocktails and more about cocktail blues and brilliant dawns and sunsets. It all makes for great memories and adventures, but, as they say in Italian “Le cose cambiano”! (“Things change”). They do for all of us and in this case, it’s my turn. I must admit that it makes me a little sad. As they say “Time and tide wait for no man.”
At almost 74, my life, in many ways, has become more complex and busy. Though mostly retired from my business, I do get called in to help with any legality. I write, paint and have several “give back to society” obligations, which gobble up the hours, which I thoroughly enjoy. We have a granddaughter in college and our three grand boys especially take up a lot of time. We would not trade grand parenting for anything. The boys love boating but with the slow dissolution of older adult crews, they are still too young and inexperienced to set anchor, start ladling out a chum line, use a large net or gaff or operate a vessel. As you get older you become aware that fishing on the outside alone is not a wise choice, even though you did it for years. Your agility slows down a bit and finally, after a year or two of denial, you realize the time has come to weigh your nautical options. Of course, being without ANY boat has been never a consideration for me while I still have my wits (There are those that would question that!) and my agility. For me was just a question of size, function, and durability that was in need of adjustment.
Fourteen years ago I had sold my 30 ft. Center Console with twin 250s which was built and rigged for offshore exploits and it saw its fair share of blue water but in my late fifties I already wasn’t putting in the time I need to warrant such a large vessel as I had in the past. More and more of my summers time was spent on Oak Island so I downsized and purchased a 23.5 ft. Boston Whaler Conquest Walkaround with one 225hp on her transom and named her Drifter. She is the fifth boat named Drifter that I have owned over the years. She’s been a solid friend, both in the bays and on the outside. I’ve also had three different small Whalers to use on the bays and get back and forth to my Oak Island bay house for years. I presently keep a 13 Sport their now. I love Whaler products but when opportunity knocks hard, you just got to grab it. Out of the blue, a used 17 ft. Parker center console sort of fell into my lap. I went to see her and she was in near perfect condition with a 90hp Mercury two stroke on her transom. She came with a trailer and a full winter cover. She’s perfect for the bays both where we live on the water in Bellmore and for Oak Island. She can handle the coastal waters on the outside on a reasonably good day and her shallower draft will allow me to access unmarked creeks where bass and large fluke hide that were not accessible in my heftier 23.5 Whaler.
Given all the pluses and minuses it was clear that the decision was just about made for me. I bought the Parker cream puff and have put Drifter up for sale! It was hard seeing her leave my dock for the last time in December. I stood there remembering all the amazing times we had all those years on bigger boats. In the early years with the kids, I went out fishing at dawn, came back, and off we went as a family to an unmarked strand of sand to swim and sun. Then there were the days of offshore expeditions, and the evening rides with my wife to watch the sunsets. There is also a bit of regret I didn’t do even more, but family and business had their priorities. But I have NO regrets having those boats. None! They owe my family and me nothing.
Drifter will now go to someone else to enjoy. I will find equal enjoyment on the Parker. However, there is one more task I must attend to and that is what to name my less than new Parker.
Since all my boats have been named Drifter and they were much larger vessels - I think I might go with Drift Less. I‘ll see if the grand kids approve. If they don’t? It will still be named Drift Less. See you on the bays come spring!
C. By Mark C. (Sea) Nuccio All rights reserved
You can reach Mark –email@example.com