Copyright 2006 By Cap’n Fatty Goodlander
I honestly thought that I’d matured a tad, that I’d finally wrestled my spending impulses under control. Ditto, my wife Carolyn. I really believed she’d finally began to see the light: spending money on frivolous personal items (shoes, food, medicines) was bad, spending money on boat stuff (anchor windlass, radar and new cocktail flag) was good.
I mean, a man’s gotta have what a man’s gotta have, eh?
She wanted a Pactor Modem linked to my SSB radio so she could email our daughter every couple of hours… why shouldn’t I buy a new radar with an improved, waterproof, multi-tasking cockpit display which includes a ‘dedicated USB porn port?’
Isn’t the whole idea to be digitally interfaced 24/7?
Well, Carolyn didn’t approve. “Why, hon?” I quizzed her. “Just because they’re naked and women and Asian… you think they can’t give good navigation advice… how sexist/racist is that?!?”
Alas, you can’t argue with her.
The problem is, we’re in New Zealand now. It is the First World. By that I mean a person’s wallet is the sole focus of all social interaction. I resisted, of course. I resisted mightily, in fact… and my resistance lasted about 3.2 nanoseconds into the first ship’s chandlery.
I mean, I’m so loosely-oriented and Freudian. I find seacocks sexy! And that’s not even mentioning all the harnesses/bondage gear… antenna whips… chains, shackles and tie-downs!
True, I’ve been away for awhile, but when did Larry Flint buy West Marine? Has Hef suddenly gotten into boating? Is it true that Paris Hilton has purchased ‘moral rights’ to the SSCA? When did Pamela Anderson become the SAFE BOATING spokesperson?
Where was I?
Ah, yes. Kiwi marine shopping!
The problem here in NZ is that yachties don’t have to pay something called GST (Gullible Stupid Trick). And there is favorable exchange rate, so when the local marine merchants double the price and offer you ten per cent off, they say, with utter sincerity, “Why, for you Americans it is practically free!”
“Free,” I said the first dozen times, “Then I’ll take it!”
The result of all this ‘free’ business was me paying for some very expensive long distance telephone calls, so I could scream at various US credit card companies, “What do you MEAN my card is maxed out?”
Part of the problem is the money is different colors here. Thus, when I ask Carolyn how much she spent during one of her recent ten hour ‘mall-sieges’, she replies, “Not much, really… two green ones… and an orange and a purple!”
“That’s ninety-five bucks,” I scream, but she ignores me breezily with, “…don’t be such a bean-counter, Fatty!”
Oh, these ‘southern hemisphere’ salesmen are slick! I went into one marine supply store, and got drawn in with a religious gaff: “…cleanliness is next to Godliness!” whispered the pious-sounding ‘sails-assistant’ guy.
Well, who could dispute that? Not I.
“Boats, in order to be clean, need wash-down pumps,” continued the guy smoothly. “That’s basic! Why I recently saw a copy of a major American marine magazine and the shabby boat on the cover looked like it hadn’t been hosed off since Joshua Slocum was hot!”
I couldn’t tell if he knew who I was and had directed his remarks at me personally, but I decided to take no chances. “What should I do,” I asked with a cringe. “I mean, yeah, my boat Wild Card, DOES look a little tired…”
“A wash-down pump,” he beamed, “that’s just the thing! Why, she’ll sparkle, mate, when she’s been hosed off and swabbed down!”
“How much,” I asked, and quickly sat down in preparation.
“Two hundred bucks,” he said.
I calculated the exchange rate and subtracted the GST… not a bad price, really.
But when he rang it up, it was $300 Kiwi. “Why’s that?” I asked.
“Knowing you was an American, I thought it only decent and honorable of me to save you the trouble of finding a calculator to figure it out yourself, so I considerately quoted you the price in your money, minus the GST!”
“Wow,” I said, impressed. “That IS nice and considerate of you, no anti-American feelings here, eh?”
“Nary a bit,” he smiled, and changed the subject with, “so Wild Card is around seven meters, is she?”
“No, I said. “She’s 38 feet.”
“Oh, he said as he snatched the pump back, “then you are about to make a big mistake. Thank God-and-Helen-Clark I caught it!”
“See on the pump carton,” he continued professortorically, “how small that skinny guy’s boat is?”
“The guy with the ugly wife,” I asked.
“That’s the one,” he confirmed. “His boat is small and, thus, this pump is almost adequate… to dribble some drops of water on… but what you need is (he whipped out a new and larger box) is this MAX FLOW MISTER MACHO deck wash pump… see the picture of the muscle man with the three bikini-clad ladies smiling at him adoringly… on the Swan 65? That could be YOU!”
“Excellent,” I said, and rubbed my hands together in glee. “Thanks for assisting me!”
“Yep, this pretty little pump puts out 45 PSI… enough force to blow the mud off Louisiana!”
“Whoa,” I said, “…topical, topical!”
“And you’ll also need,” he said with a decreasing mutter as he rang the items up, “some hose, clamps, a strainer… nozzle, surge tank… electrical cables… quick-disconnect…”
The register read $600 and he must have noticed me blanch.
“Don’t worry,” he said, “that’s before the exchange rate and the GST… both of which work in your complete favor.”
“Wait,” I said, panicking, “I can’t afford…”
“Don’t think if it as a pump, think of it as a SHIP-WIDE WATER SYSTEM… why, you can plumb it into your head and galley sink as well… only $150 US each for all three!”
“Okay,” I said. “I’m glad you explained it that way. I was beginning to think it was a lot of money!”
“For an American, almost free!” he chuckled.
So Wild Card now has a high quality, high capacity wash down pump installed on it… suitable for the Queen Mary.
The first time we used it was, alas, ‘a bit of a drama,’ as the locals say. They weren’t joking about it being powerful: it bent the forward stanchions, broke a couple of portholes and drenched the irate woman sunbathing on the vessel anchored beside me, all within the first few seconds.
Luckily, it ran down the ‘house’ batteries almost immediately… stupid of me to forget an ‘on/off’ switch, eh? And, yes, in the interest of ‘multi-station economy’ I had plumbed it to both my galley sink and head… but the sink faucet shot the hi-pressure water all over the main cabin… which was, at least, MUCH nicer than what was shot all over the head!!!
The good news is our many Kiwi and Aussie friends seemed delighted with my oft-requested tale of woe. “She’ll be right,” they laugh. “No worries! Good on ya!”
“But,” I sputtered, “this isn’t exactly what I had in mind. Thank gosh it was almost free!”
I’ll say one thing —— these Kiwis are a homogenous group, alright. Whenever I mention how I hate to spend money they shout back in unison, “…NO WHINGING, Fatty!”
Cap’n Fatty Goodlander lives aboard Wild Card with his wife Carolyn and cruises throughout the world. He is the author of “Chasing the Horizon” by American Paradise Publishing, “Seadogs, Clowns and Gypsies” and “The Collected Fat.” For more Fat-flashes, see fattygoodlander.com