The Dream

Walk through any boat yard and you'll see them; Yachts and power boats all relegated to a little used part of the yard. The effect is even more tragic if it's in the dead of winter. You hear the wind rustling torn plastic and a "pinging," sound from a main mast pully that taps out a lonesome tattoo against the mast. I look at them lined up, some in better shape than others. Some still have their protective plastic relatively intact, others have been here longer with their shrink-wrap shredded and almost gone. Walking further, I select one and judging from the permit sticker it's been close to ten years since its hull touched water, that's a lifetime. Over there, is a Chris-Craft with a wooden hull and a teak deck, built back in the fifties. Standing in the snow, I see that the last permit dates from 1999 since it was licensed, now it sits here rotting away. If there was any plastic on her it's now long gone and I'm sure the hull has been collecting water from years sitting out in the snow and rain. I wonder what her story is, they tell me that come spring she'll be cut up for scrap.

It's pretty much the same story with all these abandoned boats, once upon a time they were someone's dream. Someone looked at brochures, visited marinas, maybe even attended a boat show or two where they fell under the spell of a persuasive salesman.

Then came more dreaming, possibly thoughts of sailing around the world, or idyllic vacations sailing around Lake Michigan or even the Caribbean. Idle hours spent sunning on a warm deck of the boat you named for your wife or girlfriend, or some other novel pet name.

It's usually the same story, the big day comes you've sweated and sacrificed, and saved enough pennies and are now ready to make the big leap and buy that "dream." I can only imagine all the excitement and eagerness these derelicts once generated, but now… every one of these boats has had their day, providing families or couples with pleasure and enjoyment. I look at them and wonder if any actually sailed an ocean or two, or at least felt the warm waters of the Caribbean. Well they're all here now…waiting for new owners that will never come. Today's a new day, things have changed. Sail, and large power boats are only for the rich now; although some of these boats were purchased by people who thought they were.

As with all these types of boats the "honeymoon" eventually ends, plans and economic conditions change, the kids grow up and are ready to start college, no money for the boat now.

"Man, I don't know where the money went honey, looks like we're going to have to park the boat this summer, we'll make it up next year." Unfortunately, when next spring rolls around and it's time to put the boat in the water something else has come up, "next summer" gets bumped up for another year, then another. Then there's a divorce certainly no money for a boat now, alimony has sucked all of that up. And so, it begins, someone's pride and joy is now their "albatross," up for sale, and sitting on a cradle waiting for a buyer. It's initial plastic shrink wrapping now showing signs of green mold, birds have gained entry through tears in the plastic, same old story.

It isn't long before the yard rent goes unpaid, and the boat continues to sit. The marina tries to collect but there are complications, and sometimes they just give up. The sale price has been dropped, but no bites, those that can still afford them always buy new, they never visit this place.

Eventually, the marina owner must clear inventory, and make more room for newer boats, the taxes are killing him and that boat yard needs to be cleared out. The end will come with a large blue dumpster and a chain saw. The craft is lifted off its cradle and unceremoniously dumped on the ground, filthy brown water accumulated from years of neglect rolls out from the hull. The interior is ruined, the cushions and mattress's soaked and moldy, the wood paneling warped and rotted.

The end comes when the marina workers show up and go to work. Their saws rip through the faded fiberglass hull like undeniable reality cutting the "dream" into several large pieces which are then dropped into the dumpster. Salvageable metal is tossed into the back of a trailer where it will be taken to the scrap yard. As night settles, the dream is no more, existing now only in someone's memory, or faded photographs.