Being without a training gig for the past two months has given me plenty of time to twiddle my thumbs. And between twiddling my thumbs I have also managed to dream a little: a sweet indulgence that I have almost forgotten how to do. But after being here in Umbai for almost a year now, it’s all coming back.
For a couple of weeks now I have had a strange (but amusing) recurring vision. There is this gleaming white 30-footer walkaround boat (an Island Hopper Sea Leveller, actually) berthed at the far end of the Umbai jetty. Its 420 hp onboard diesel engine is purring on idle as it bobs gently to the rhythm of the waves. An old-timer, dressed in an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, khaki cargo pants and blue deck shoes climbs out of the cabin. Straightening his worn out captain’s hat, he lights up a Winston and beams me a smile to end all smiles.
The captain is me!
Whoa! This is when the vision usually gets shattered. A thousand insistent voices clamour all at once to tell me how ridiculous the notion is. “C’mon, man! What? You own a boat?” taunts a faceless voice. This is usually followed by another one screaming, “Get a grip on reality, will you!” All the while there is also another voice that does nothing but laugh in the background. So I shut off the dream and go clean a few fountain pens.
But lately it’s getting easier and easier to ignore the voices – and also the background laughter. And as the doubts begin to recede into the recesses from where they came, my vision of the walkaround boat is getting more and more vivid. Today I can even smell the diesel fumes from the Sea Leveller’s engines and feel the spray of coastal seawater in my face as my captain’s hat get wetter and wetter.
Wouldn’t it be great if I could run island hopping tours to the little islands off the coast of Melaka for when training gigs are few and far between? Even if the travel agencies do not send tourists my way, wouldn’t there still be plenty angling-mad friends I could take on fishing charters? I could also do sunset cruises for my camera crazy cronies, couldn’t I? And surely there’d be more than a few of love-struck couples out there who would enjoy an honest to goodness sunset cruise. Hey, with my newly acquired skills in photography they’d even get a professionally produced portrait (with the sunset in the background) thrown in for free.
As the doubts fade away, my intent gets clearer and clearer. I’m not looking at an ego-boosting cabin cruiser with which to declare to the world that I have a 12-inch dick. I’ll leave that to the yuppies and people who believe that they have things to prove. I stark contrast, all I’m looking at is a humble, sea-worthy 30-footer that can provide me with a decent income. In other words, I am looking at a working boat – not a status symbol.
And imagine this! For when business is slow I can – on a whim – whip the family (or friends) out on a coastal trip to who-knows-where to do who-knows-what. Now, wouldn’t that be great!
No, I’ve not yet fired up a spreadsheet to figure out the cashflow projections and assemble a proforma profit and loss statement. That can come later. But whatever little research I’ve done tells me that owning a boat (especially for a semi-commercial purpose) works out to be far less than owning a golf club membership or maintaining a high performance car. Things are looking good so far. Perhaps when I get to draw on my EPF…
But for now, I’m off to talk to the maritime authorities (whoever they may be) to learn the regulatory framework and maybe suss-out the types of licences I will need. On my way back, I’ll probably get me a decent captain’s hat.
My uncle told me once that a goal without a plan is just a wish. I think this has gone beyond being just a wish.