I eventually got her all tuned up and purring like a meth-addled, two-stroke mountain lion, but only after spending way more money than I expected. You might point out that with an old boat, your lower cost of admission comes with the certain expectation of maintenance costs, and you'd be right. But new boats play in an even more demented financial realm, a fact you quickly glean from reading boat magazines.
I have before me a boat magazine, open to a random review of a 34-foot cruiser. The boat in question is handsome but unremarkable, not the sort of thing that would wow anyone at the marina. It's powered by twin 300-hp General Motors LT1 350-cubic-inch V-8s - the absolute latest word in 1993 Chevy Camaro Z28 propulsion technology. Price: a mere $286,000. Assume that a marinized LT1 costs, what, six grand? Why is the rest of the boat so expensive? I don't get it. But I do know that for that sort of dough, you could get a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder or a Ferrari 430 Scuderia or his-and-hers Audi R8s. Exquisite possessions - and ones that don't use fifteen-year-old Camaro engines.
Last week, I got to drive the new, 600-hp Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed, and when I peeked at the sticker price, I saw it was somewhere around $245,000. That's the kind of price that prompts bystanders to gasp, "How could you ever justify spending that sort of money on a car?" The answer is that it's all relative. Because later that week, when I booked my modest boat for a slip at a local marina, I noticed that there were two reserved parking spaces right down by the dock. Both were assigned to particular boats, and both were occupied by Bentley Flying Spurs. I never encountered the owners of those cars, but I think they'd agree: compared with a boat, a Flying Spur is a screaming bargain.