Have you ever parked a boat?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Just finished my “week at the lake” portion of my summer vacation.  Spent a good chunk of it driving a boat.  As I have mentioned before, I like to drive.  Ask me about my next career in heavy machinery operation.  Anyone need a zero experience grader operator who thinks he will be good?  What about if I have my own grader?

 

Driving a boat seems fairly simple.  You get a license good for a 25 metre yacht without even one bit of practical experience.  You have to stay on the internet for three hours to write the test.  I guess they figure navigating the internet is equivalent to piloting a ship.

 

Christina Lake is a pretty harmless waterway for boating but there are quite a few boating skills required.  Different water sports require different driving techniques and there seem to be a lot more back seat drivers in boating.  Water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and now wakesurfing all require special driving techniques.  None require a great deal of skill.

 

Ever try to dock a boat?  A lot of skill, some luck!  Not easy!  Everyone wants to drive the boat on the open water but when it is time to dock people start jumping out of the drivers seat.  Especially if your boat is new.  The first boat scratch comes way sooner than the first car scratch and nobody wants that on their resume.

 

My first and only Caribbean cruise pointed out to me that parking boats is a special skill.  When coming into port the captain of the ship passes off the controls to a pilot that specializes in docking ships in a particular port.  

 

Boat technology seems to lag automobile technology.  Some cars now lay claim to parking themselves I have seen it on TV but not in real life.  Will boats ever park themselves?  Floating is a lot different than rolling.  There is no brake pedal on a boat.

 

My boat is not near the engineering feat that my car is.  In fact it seems sort of just cobbled together.  A lot more than I expected.  I maintain and fix cars for a living.  My boat presents a new challenge.

 

As mechanics we criticize engineers that design cars.  Why can’t they make the parts we have to replace accessible?  Let me tell you boat engineers are worse.  Spark plugs, fuel filters, drive belts.  None of them simple to change.

 

Automobiles have become infected with electronics and computer control systems.  Boats are now on the same track.  I had to buy a special marine scan tool to diagnose my boat.  I could not stand the idea of not being able to figure out a problem when the check engine light comes on.

 

Of course boats have  their own communication protocols, and just like the vehicles of the past there is not one standard plug in.  Luckily my boat has a fairly common connector and communication protocol.

 

As luck would have it one of my fellow boaters had a check engine light on.  I got to use my new scan tool out at the dock.  Successful diagnosis and repair.

 

Ship pilot …. nah.  Boat mechanic … maybe.

 

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