An unusual departure

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Posted by w0ep on July 24, 2018 at 8:31 pm

[Today’s run: 3.5 miles]

Things were really slow at work yesterday, so I took the afternoon off and we went for a bit of an adventure.

As you know, I watch a couple of government auction websites.  And on the one for state/local agencies, a state park in NW Alabama was listing two 30 ft. sailboats with an initial bid of $100.  And not getting much attention.

So I got into it a bit and tried to find out something about these boats.  I did some match-the-picture looking with google and figured out what make/model of boats they were.  One was actually a pretty nice boat when it came out in the mid 1970’s.  The other is more of a pedestrian mid-80’s jobbie.  I learned about how a luxury tax in the late ’80s killed the sailboat business and drove many manufacturers out.

So I called up the place in Alabama and we took the afternoon off and went and saw the boats.

I don’t really want a boat.  Having a boat like that would mean paying for a place to park it.  It’s like having an RV that you never use and can’t park on your own property.   But we’ve been taking our little fishing/rowboat down to the river almost every Sunday for a couple of months now and really enjoying it.  The difference being, of course, that it is cheap, and relatively easy to transport, and not worth enough money to lose any sleep over.

Anyway, so we had a nice drive up to the Muscle Shoals area and saw these two boats at the Joe Wheeler State Park marina.  Both were floating OK.  The interiors were pretty much shot.  The exterior fittings and stuff seemed to be doing OK.  But… too much remedial work for me, were I interested.

You have to understand also that the Joe Wheeler State Park is on the Tennessee river.  And the Tennessee river connects to the Tombigbee as part of the Great Loop.  A person could get in a boat at that park and drive it to within a couple of miles of my house… and then go on past and end up at Mobile Bay in southern Alabama.  And the loopers go up the eastern seaboard and into the Great Lakes and into the Illinois river and the  Ohio, Tennessee, or Mississippi.  See this Great Loop website for more info.  It’s like people who live in a an RV full time… maybe more like living in a VW campervan full time… on the water, and having to pay for every night’s stay.

If a guy wanted to go on a multi-month boat ride, I’m in a good place from which to start.  If I had a boat for that, which I don’t.

Someone finally put in an initial bid on the better of the two boats.  He may end up with it for $100 and change.  If he puts in a lot of work and a few thousand dollars he’ll have a nice boat.

Oh, I was going to add:  we had a nice time talking to the ranger at the marina.  He said that a lot of people never take their boats out, they just use them as waterborne campers on weekends, like having your little RV at Cutty’s  (for those who grew up in my era and place).  He said some will stop paying their slip fee ($150/mo ? something like that)  and then the park sues for ownership of the boat and sells the thing on the Alabama State Surplus system and eventually the auction site.  He said that sometimes people will buy them and get a slip at the park and park them there and such is the circle of old-tired-boat life.  The only indication of last-time-used on the two boats we looked at was a state license sticker from 2011.

Filed under Mississippi, outdoors
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