Matching Personalities to Boats

In this edition of Off My Dock, Plueddeman describes a common foible.

Matching Personalities to Boats
I’m considering what kind of boat this couple will look great in because I firmly believe the boat has to match the style of the owner.Tim Bower

Well, it’s June, and the lakes are open, bait tanks are full of minnows, and the shrink-wrap has been recycled, but I’d wager I could still find the crusty remnants of a snowdrift in a shaded, north-facing ditch. You might have heard we had quite a winter. This is a matter of perspective, of course. For most of February we had to listen to old-timers nursing a brandy-and-7 at the Lake View Inn mutter about years when the snow was “up to a horse’s belly.” The younger generation, who also thinks the Packers have always had a great quarterback, has never seen snow like we had this year. And they never saw Jerry Tagge under center.

I have observed that major weather events usually produce winners and losers. When there’s a flood or a hurricane, the insurance companies pay up and the contractors make out. And this year those in the snow business—plow jockeys and snowmobile dealers and North Woods resort owners—cashed in. The taxpayers suffer. All that highway plowing and salting.

Another winner-loser situation came to light when I ran into Dr. Rob (ENT) and Dr. Denise (internist and UW marching band) at the Lake View’s Friday fish fry. The friendly physicians told me they are boat shopping because the weight of March snowpack and rain collapsed the roof on a North Woods storage building, crushing their boat. The insurance company loses again.

Giving people boat-buying advice is an unavoidable obligation of my profession, so I was prepared when the inevitable “what boat should we get” question bounced down the bar. Like a salesman, I asked the docs the qualifying questions: Where will you use the boat and for what? Ballpark budget? Tow it or moor it? Yada yada. But through the conversation, I’m considering what kind of boat this couple will look great in because I firmly believe the boat has to match the style of the owner. My good friend Chuck Larson and his Yar-Craft both look kind of old and crusty. Perfect match. Dougie Ganther, tan and in ­Bermuda shorts from Memorial Day until Labor Day, has a 300 hp pontoon. Perfect. Walleye warrior Tiny Krause, always in sponsor’s gear and tan only on his hands and neck, looks just right in a metalflake Skeeter.

And so the docs—this is a handsome couple, on the glide path to retirement but still fit, fun and attractive, obviously secure but never the type to flaunt it—they had a family-style deck boat, but now the kids are out of the house. I imagine them gliding away from the dock and into the sunset across Tomahawk Lake in a, hmm… in a midnight blue Chris-Craft Capri, of course. Classic, classy, understated.

There’s that episode of The ­Sopranos where Tony realizes he can’t trade in his Escalade on a Mercedes coupe because “I’d look like a douchebag in that car.” Think about that before you buy another boat.