If A Cruiser Wins the Lottery

By Tom Neale, 9/20/2007


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Lottery Tickets Needed.
So I’m sitting here at anchor, the rising sun beginning to take the chill off the night’s air that had drifted down the hatches and through the portholes. Looking out I see a deer drinking on the bank, just a few hundred feet away. A heron slowly steps along the marsh. A turtle pops his head out of the water and blinks. I turned on the TV this morning to see what the rest of the world was doing (it usually makes me feel better to compare) and saw that some people won over $300,000,000.00 (did I get those zeros right?) in a lottery. None of the tickets had been bought out here—all ashore somewhere at places like gas stations and convenience marts.

I don’t want to think this, but I do anyway. I can’t help it. “What would I do if I won the lottery?” The light breeze shifts a little. The current of the incoming tide eddies lazily as it flows around the sand bar to my east. The boat swings slowly back and forth, caught between the breeze and the current—a slow dance with the two forces of nature, carrying me with it. I snap back to “reality.” “What would I do if I won the lottery?”

The news media had interviewed some people who’d already won the lottery. They’d bought new cars. Would I buy a new dingy? Mine works fine and I’m really used to the feel of it in a seaway. Would I buy a new outboard for my familiar old dinghy? Maybe, but then where would the adventure be of always wondering whether and when you are going to get back to the mother ship.

Some bought new homes when they won the lottery. I suppose I could buy a new boat. That’s my “home.” But I’ve seen a lot of the new boats. Mine was built in 1975. She was built like a brick Johnny house. That’s an old expression we used to use in the country when I was growing up—except we used another word for “Johnny.” (That word began with an “s”.) Usually people used only cheap wood tacked together for the shack enclosing that hole in the ground. One made of brick was incredibly overbuilt and of ultimate quality. My boat was built like that. She’s unbelievably tough. She was built when they weren’t trying to get by with how little fiberglass and resin they could put in the hulls and how light they could make it with cores and all the other fancy “modern techniques.” So I don’t know if I’d even want to buy a new home. Sure, with three hundred million I could have a boat built just the way I want it, but why bother? I like this one.

Some, when they win the lottery, move to an upscale neighborhood where life is much more refined and where they are “safer” because they are in gated communities. They are surrounded by huge lawns and grand mansions. Small cars are Lexuses and Beemers and large cars are limos. Yard care specialists keep the grass green and trimmed and pool specialists assure that they have a wonderful place to swim. But I can move to a different neighborhood every day. There are no lawn care specialists and limos, but there are wild deer and heron and geese and lots of other things that I’d rather see. There isn’t a pool, but I can jump over the side of my boat and go swimming. And if I want to see mansions, I can always anchor in a cove where mansions grace the shore. And I really don’t need a gated community. I’ve got a moat—a very large moat—all around my home.

Some started doing things that they hadn’t done before, like going to fancy five star restaurants when they won the lottery. Some of those people seemed to be very fat. I don’t think I’d want to get that way. It would be really tough wrapping my body around my diesel to fix this that or the other.

On A Sure Fire Way
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Some made investments when they won the lottery. This was so they could get even more money. They began daily sessions on-line or hour-long conferences on the telephone with brokers, sweating and roller coasting between curses and cheers as their fortunes increased and flopped, increased and flopped, again and again. I can get on-line from my boat. I do it every time I send in one of these articles to BoatUS and the magazines I write for. But I think I’d rather just get on-line to do things like that and then get off. It’s more fun to take a spin in my dinghy or head out the inlet to a new island or new river or new creek or new cove—a new perfect neighborhood.

Some quit their jobs. I did that back in the early 80s after I moved on my boat. Sure, I do lots of jobs now. I write for magazines, I fix my diesels and outboards and pumps and plumbing and heads and generators and electrical stuff and clean my bottom and go to the top of the mast to change a light bulb and—you know, because you maybe do a lot of that stuff yourself. So I quit my job, but I have many more jobs that are very important because they directly contribute to our quality of life and safety and happiness. And, unlike the plumbers who work for the rich people who’ve won the lottery, my plumber comes as soon as he’s needed. Because he’s me.

And then there’s another big time “Oh you simply have to do it” major pursuit of so many lottery winners. It’s like a common denominator for those who win the lottery. They take a cruise. Yep, they take a cruise.

They spend a fortune and get on a big ship where they can climb fake mountain walls (if they don’t get too heavy from all the fancy food) or hit golf balls (if the ship’s horn doesn’t unexpectedly blow—my horn only blows when I want it to) and go to tourist hot spots where people line up to sell them straw baskets and braid their hair and this isn’t a problem because they have the money to pay for it all. And the tourist hot spots are chosen by corporate executives and are planned far in advance so the lottery winners don’t really go where they want to go, but where they think they want to go because some one else is telling them that’s where they want to go and they really don’t have much of a say in the matter. They’re riding on some one else’s boat—and paying a fortune for it.

We’ve been cruising for years on “Chez Nous” and we kind of like deciding where we want to go and when we want to go and getting there ourselves.

Yep, I have to admit that I’d still love the win the lottery. I think I could figure out some things to do with all that money. But nobody’s selling tickets out here. They’re selling them in all those crowded places deep on shore, with exhaust from zillions of cars and stop lights and sirens, do walk and don’t walk signs and billboards everywhere telling you what’s going to make you happy. Now that’s a problem.

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Copyright 2004-2008 Tom Neale