Friday, June 12, 2015

Becoming Boatless

Think I’m going to sell our boat this summer. It’s tied up to a slip at the Kezar Lake Marina and this may be the last season. Even though I’m semi-retired, I simply don’t use it enough to justify the cost of maintaining it. There’s nothing like going out there with a book and drifting along on one of Kezar’s three bays on a hot, humid day. If I get too hot while reading, I put the book down, jump in the lake, then climb back up the ladder to towel off and go back to reading. My wife likes to sit in a tube tied to the back. We’ll miss it, but she agrees. It’s time to think about selling.
Mine is small one top center with blue cover
One of my clients wants me to exercise his boat once or twice a week, so I’m out on that one more often than my own. I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. Kezar is a lovely lake as everyone in western Maine knows. There’s a lot less boat traffic since Stephen King bought the old camping area on West Lovell Road and closed it down. That’s nice for some of us who like the quiet, but not so nice for fishing guides and others who lost business. Can’t please everybody.
Middle Bay Kezar Lake
My first experience floating in something was when my childhood friend Philip and I salvaged a steel tub used by a neighbor for mixing cement. When school got out in June, we dragged it through the woods to a swamp and used scraps of boards to paddle out on the small stretch of open water. We tried to catch painted turtles sunning themselves on logs but they’d see us coming, slip into the water, and swim down into the mud. We’d watch where they hid and lean down and pull up a handful of muck with a turtle in it. We were about ten, I think. Then some older boys used the tub for target practice and shot it full of .22 caliber holes. No more boating for us.
Then there was a raft the older boys constructed on a nearby pond by nailing a few boards onto a couple of logs. Our mothers told us never to go out on it. When we did and someone saw us, we were subjected to blackmail lest they tell. My next craft was a canoe I had for years as an adult. I’d fish with the children and paddle down the Saco with my wife. When the children were old enough, I’d strap it on the truck so my wife and I could slip away for some alone time alone exploring smaller ponds.
When the kids starting leaving the nest about twenty years ago, we splurged on an old, fourteen-foot Corson with a forty-horse Mercury outboard. It was very cheap to run and we’d trailer it around exploring area lakes. Mostly though, we went out on Kezar and noticed there were lots of Corsons tied up at docks. They’re simple boats — fiberglass hull, a windshield and seats — and very light.

People get attached to their Corsons. They were made in Madison, Maine by a family of boat-builders by that name. My wife called ours “Baby Boat” and we enjoyed it for years. The previous owner had a place on Kezar and he would contact me periodically to ask how his old boat was doing. When I sold it to my daughter and son-in-law to use at their place on Crescent Lake in Raymond, Maine, I notified him that the old Corson wasn’t on Kezar anymore but would be well taken care of. He thanked me for letting him know. Several years ago we traded up for the 18-foot Stingray we have now. It’s a thirty-year-old inboard/outboard with comfortable seats to stretch out, but we’re not so attached to it as we were to the Corson.
One morning during a run at Bug Light in South Portland last month, I saw some workmen backing their boat down the launch and recognized it as a big Corson. It had their distinct fiberglass top but was twenty feet long. I didn’t know they came that big and I chatted with the owner and two of his friends. All were heading out to work on Peak’s Island.
Launching Corson at Bug Light
Turns out his mother was a Corson and his father was a boatbuilder. His was built in 1973 and he’d customized it. I told him I remembered when the company was up for sale about fifteen years ago for only around $50,000. He acknowledged that but said government imposed new regulations that would have mandated another $200,000 investment for whoever were to buy it, so no deal could be reached.

“So, government regulation destroyed the company then?” I asked.

“You could say that,” he responded as he turned the boat around and headed off.

We still have a couple of kayaks we don't use enough, and they're easier to handle than that old cement-mixing tub I started with. If you're interested in our Stingray, let me know.


Anonymous said...

Sail boats.
WOODEN sail boats.
Now THAT'S the way to shovel money into a hole in the water...
Granted, don't need no steenkin' marina, 'round here anyway.
(Tough to ski behind though)
Yep, I have "a friend" with a nice "Kevlar" canoe.
Guess who got good at making wooden replacement seats/gunwales/thwarts, and patching "low water impacts" with fiberglass....?
(also tough to waterski behind)
It inspired me to NOT own one of THOSE either.
In order to avoid TOO much penis envy, I AVOID going to the ChrisCraft (and others0 show/sale in Wolfeboro on the Winni, about as much as I avoid the MWV Old Car Club gatherings in parking lots.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Yeah. I still salivate when I see an Austin Healy 3000 go by. Sorry I sold mine forty years ago.

Anonymous said...

I used to appreciate King buying up land for conservation purposes. But now i can't help but wonder if the results and intent arent elitist and exclusionary to regular folks and visitors, who wish to experience all nature has to offer up close and personal. Its also interesting that the location of the Native American petroglyph off of West Stoneham Rd. which is on land he owns but doesnt reside at, has been erased from the Maine Archeological website. Are these important pieces and treasures of history meant to be privatized?