When a dream purchase morphs into a sinking feeling

Steve Perkin had a dream … that came to fruition. Now he has a sinking feeling.

When a dream purchase morphs into a sinking feeling

Do we all have a dream that wasn’t exactly how you dreamt it would be when it became a reality? Steve Perkin did. The semi-retired writer shares his initial joy and the sinking feeling that a sad aftermath seems inevitable.


I always wanted a boat.

I saw myself sleeping on it, anchored in a sleepy bay somewhere. Throwing a line over the side to catch breakfast. Taking a dip to freshen up. Reading a book on the bow as the water gently slapped against the side.

So I bought one.

My mates all chimed in with the usual gag: “This will be the second happiest day of your life.”

Yes, I’ve heard that, I thought to myself, but I’ll be different. I’ll catch so many fish that I’ll become semi self-sufficient.

I’m going to become an old salt. I’ll teach the grandchildren all about life on the open sea. Teach them to love the water, not fear it. Teach them to fish.

And the day I chugged out of the creek and into the bay for the first time, standing at the helm, bait and rods on board, a thermos of coffee, my wife beside me … that was among the best moments of my life.

That we didn’t catch anything didn’t matter much. There would be other days.

Now, 2000 other days on, I’ve put my boat on the market and, if I sell it, it won’t be the happiest day of my life, it will be close to the saddest, not because I love that boat, but because I failed it.

It spent too many days moored in the creek. Too many days unvisited and ignored.

It wasn’t the boat’s fault. Every time I steered it out of the creek by myself, I was transformed into something else. An adventurer. A risk-taker. The ‘Old Man of the Sea’.

And now that will all be gone. I will return to being a boring landlubber. I couldn’t even keep it long enough to see my grandchildren to an age when they were old enough to come fishing with me. The oldest is only five and for her, fish are cute, not something you catch, toss in a bucket and later eat.

I’m selling it because it’s financially irresponsible not to. Mooring in the creek costs money, insurance and registration never go away and there always seems to be something mechanical that needs attention.

And there’s the trailer that takes up room in the driveway and must also be registered.

So, why didn’t I fish more often? Well, there are days when you can’t because there are other things you must do. Then there are days when the weather’s not right. Too windy or too threatening.

And then there are days when you simply have no excuse. They are the worst. When you look at the calm, blue water and are stricken with a feeling of guilt because you’re not out there.

“The fish aren’t biting,” you tell yourself. Or “I’m a bit worried about that noise in the engine.” Or “I’ll go tomorrow.”

And that guilt ends up drowning you. Every time you look at a boat that you’re not using is like having a dog you haven’t walked, or a mother you haven’t called, or a holiday house you haven’t been near in weeks.

So you get rid of it, because it’s the sensible thing to do.

And that’s what I’m doing, provided there’s somebody out there dreaming the dreams I once dreamed.

Hopefully they won’t come along for a few weeks. The tea-trees will soon be in blossom, and when that happens the snapper start biting and I’d like to tackle just one more snapper season.

And if I catch the big one, well, who knows, maybe the boat will get a reprieve. Maybe the thrill of hooking that one really giant fish will help override all feelings of guilt and common sense.

I hope so.

Have you had a similar experience to Steve’s? A dream that didn’t exactly pan out when it became reality?

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    22nd Sep 2019
    I bought a farm. Don't get me started.
    As with all passions you have to work out if you actually have time to devote to your project and if its a money pit. Sadly mine has issues on both fronts.
    22nd Sep 2019
    I owned a fairly big house, far too big for a bloke on his own. I met some people living at a marina in Sydney on a yacht. It looked great, so I sold the house & bought a yacht.

    I lived on it, learned to sail by reading books of how to, watched others, & went out with a few racers. I started doing a little low level racing, took friends out for day trips, & started sailing to Broken Bay & Port Stephens for long weekends & holidays. I even had a girl friend move in with me.

    Then the small company I was running was taken over by a large one, & they didn't want me. I had no idea of what to do next so when my girlfriend said "you've been talking about a trip up the reef, why not now" it sounded like a good idea.

    We spent 6 months cruising to the Whitsundays & back, with a little work along the way. Life in Sydney now seemed pointless so after a year saving we went off again. In Cairns we could see no point in going back to Sydney, so got visas for PNG & the Solomon, & headed north.

    In Rabaul I found lots of people needing my experience, & couldn't get unemployed. The lady & I went our separate ways. She married a planter & lived happily ever after. I contracted out of Rabaul for some years. I was even on the committee of the Yacht Club.

    After 6 years I became homesick, sailed back to Oz, met a lady, ran tourist boats for 10 years, mostly living on the yacht, & finally kicking & screaming, moved back into the rat race. The boat hung around for more years becoming a chore with time needed for kids houses & other stuff.

    After 19 years it was a wrench, but I let her go. My life was much improved by buying that boat, so for some it is a great idea.
    22nd Sep 2019
    I bought a small trailer sailer. Took it out 25-30 times in 10 years, but when I got to 70yo the launching and cleaning up after, got too much..

    I paid quite a lot of money as it was imported . I offered it to any of my relatives for 5% of what I paid and was quite surprized that nobody wanted it. It was only my retirement goal but nobody elses.

    I ended up selling it for 40% of what I paid, but fortunately to a person who really enjoyed the sailing boat experience and its challenges.
    22nd Sep 2019
    I have seen this with people who retire - then buy a big car, and caravan, and go off travelling. Drive around my suburb and there are at least 14 vans for sale that I have seen. Got talking to one fellow (I am an avid walker and walk where ever a road takes me), and his van was for sale.They had gone on the big trek - and lasted 3 weeks. Both realised it wasn't for them. Bought car for $72,000 - sold for $56,000. Bought custom made van for $93,000 (yikes!) - has been for sale for 5 months, started asking $79,000, now down to $65,000, and only offer he has had was for $52,000.
    As I have got older, 'things' mean less and less. I am going off touring for 2 months next year, travelling anywhere I want to go in Australia, but instead of buying a van, am hiring a motorhome.
    22nd Sep 2019
    Talking of dreams that come true, sadly the first major prophetic dream I had actually became real. I was 17 & dreamt one night my fiance & I went to a party & afterwards we were in a taxi that crashed. The party happened not long after to farewell several submariners who were returning to Canada after their 3 year tour of duty finished in the British navy. My fiance was staying on for another 3 years. A taxi was arranged to take a couple to the ferry to catch the last one across the harbour. I had labelled the dream a nightmare & put it out of my mind. Sadly the dream came true as after the party a taxi was called to take the couple to the ferry. We went with the couple in the taxi as we thought they would not make it in time. There were 5 of us in the taxi with the driver. He was speeding took a turn too fast, hit the gutter across the road then veered straight into a lamp post at 70 miles an hour. We found out at the trial he had been drinking as well. My fiancee was killed along with his friend, I received major fractures to all my body & the couple just scratches. The driver cracked ribs. I never dismissed my dreams again. How I wished afterwards I could turn back the clock. I have paid for it ever since with major bone related conditions that keep me in pain. It is called Karma.
    On the Ball
    23rd Sep 2019
    Not a boat but a car. Much cheaper I will admit, but the guilt and procrastination are the same. I know, it will make a great retirement project!
    Now I am retired... I do get time to work on it, but its too cold, too bloody hot, always something else to to (that I dont feel guilty about doing! - That's the crux: What I dont feel guilty about doing.)
    Now I am retired, I can say "yes" when asked to help someone out without thinking work first. But now also dont have that excuse... But I still haven't finished the car...

    Tags: dream, boat, fishing,

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