• Retire and Move Aboard This should be done as soon as possible. Doesn't matter if you decide to cruise or stay at the dock. The idea is to wake up gently rocking, listening to the seagulls sending the masses off to work.
• Successfully Negotiate a Lock This means getting through without scratching the gel coat or getting grunge on your rubrail or hands. Use your largest cylindrical fenders. A pair of soccer goalie gloves with the little rubber grip "thingies" helps.
• Get a Compliment From a Commercial Skipper It's one thing to be patted on the back by your peers. But to get an "attaboy" from a guy who makes his living at this is the ultimate praise.
• Pay off the Loan Better than paying off the house because now your spouse isn't reminded every month of what it's costing just to be in the game.
• Hire a Boatboy This is the height of capitalistic fantasy, reserved for 30-year-old investment bankers and fund managers. But think about it. You pull into your berth and toss the keys to Kato, who cleans up the mess, polishes the chrome, and restocks the wetbar.
• Voyage up the Alaskan Passage Hey, cheechako (newcomer to the north). Leave from Seattle and head for Juneau or Skagway, the end of the line. This is rough traveling, so leave lots of time, dress right, and get home before it starts getting cold in September.
• Change Your Oil…and Don't Spill a Drop Funny how it's the little things that mean so much. A foolproof trick for changing the filter without spilling any oil is to encase it in a plastic baggie before you loosen it. If you've run the engine to thin out the oil (a must), wear gloves so you don't burn your fingers.
• Learn to (Gasp!) Sail See how the other side lives so you know what to expect from these hapless vessels. Ah, the thrill of screaming along flat out at 6 mph. It also reconfirms your feelings of superiority. Just don't tell your friends.
• Cruise the Great Circle Route The Gulf, Atlantic, and Great Lakes are all connected by rivers that turn everything east of the Mississippi River into an island. Circumnavigate the area via what has become known as the Great Circle. Bluewater Books (800/942-2583) has a checklist for everything you'll need.