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Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2002
Sometimes I feel like starting off with a good old-fashioned confessional. “Forgive me Fodder, for I have sinned. It’s been 6 days since my last update . . . “

Truth be told, the Outfoxed crew has been busy. Busy performing the massive transformation that will allow us to better build the city on the beach that we’ve been preparing for all summer.

As previously hinted at, we have already secured a building in which to operate out of. At least temporarily. The building itself is 20 miles north of the new city, which is a little hard to swallow on a daily basis, all that running back and forth. But since the new city has exactly 0 finished structures standing at the moment, one has to take refuge as best one can, right? So we signed a one-year lease as a stopgap sort of thing.

We’ll build a shop to be proud of one day. Something closer to all the action. For now, we’ll hole up in the old ABC store for the winter and see how it goes.

Of course, there is first the question of moving all our stuff from one building to the next. Stu and I both have dreaded this day for quite some time, as in every time we look around our present humble abode and observe the casually strewn mass of the purebred packrat.

In typical Corporate fashion, we wanted a smooth transformation, hopefully involving as few trips as possible, with as little manual labor as possible. It seemed impossible, we have more stuff than can be comfortably placed in, say, a railroad boxcar. Or at least it seemed so. Taking the Corporate truck and making a dozen round trips betwixt old and new shops and having to pay the outrageous tolls involved just wasn’t appealing to us at all.

Enter Captain Billy Bob. Skipper of the sailing vessel ‘Two Fools with Two Bucks’. (Actually, it’s not a sailing vessel at all, it is, in fact, a stink boat of the highest order. Just thought I’d clear that up.) Billy Bob and JP are two semi-retired lads who hang out at the neighborhood sports bar, where they nurse beers and crack wise and generally make their vast combined repository of off-color humor available to the world at large.

The story goes that one day, deep in the middle of an earnest attempt to rid the bar of every Bud Lite once and for all, JP made a bet with Billy Bob that he could not only cook breakfast for all the regulars at the bar, he could do it while on a boat. Billy Bob countered with the obvious, that not only did neither of them have a boat, they didn’t know anyone who did.

One thing led to another and the two of them wound up at the marina, strolling or staggering along the dock, pointing out various big boats for sale and cackling with high glee about how much fun it would be to have one of their own. To sit on the flybridge in crisp white linens, fondling a highball at sunset, running a hand over polished teak handrails and all that sort of stuff. They caught the fever. Boat owning fever. The fact that neither of them had experienced anything more closely connected to life on the water than a reverence for Popeye cartoons didn’t seem to matter too awful much.

They were persistent about it, though. Through means never clearly explained they found a 38 foot motor boat (precious close to being called a yacht, it was) for sale by a sailor who was in dire straits financially (I’ve since learned that sailors and finances are often linked in this way). After a particularly heavy session of Bud Liteism, Billy Bob managed to hew the sailor’s asking price down to $6,000.

Now for those of you wondering how much boat $6,000 will buy you these days, it usually isn’t a 38 footer. Not unless you’re Billy Bob, and happen to have it available in cash for a sailor who has debts.

Thus was born ‘The Two Fools’, a floating version of ‘The Money Pit’.

(By the way, I’m getting to the part where I tie this all together with the moving of a carpenter’s shop from one point to the next. Allow an old-timer the luxury of a sea yarn, okay?)

What Billy Bob and JP hadn’t counted on, other than the complexities of starting the motor and actually going out to sea, was the condition of the boat itself. The Two Fools was an all-wood cabin cruiser built when Kennedy was President. What they had seen as a white boat with mahogany decks and trim was, in fact, an aging carcass that floated more by the grace of God than by the hand of man.

JP strung Christmas lights around the galley door, nailed up a scarecrow with a funny hat from the bridge and declared the bar to be open. Out of perhaps 300 boats docked at the marina, the Two Fools may have set the record for most consecutive days with onboard partying that didn’t involve actually leaving the slip. But it didn’t matter, they were having the time of their life, each deferring to the other as Captain, singing pirate songs in the middle of the night and plotting great fishing expeditions for the coming months.

This lasted until the day that they both simultaneously stepped onto the deck at the stern and nearly crashed through to the engine below. A bit of rot was suspected. Closer inspection revealed that a LOT of rot was closer to the truth. Experts were called to examine, a boat survey was performed. The Captains actually sobered a little when the words ‘Drydock” and “Complete overhaul of the Boat below Waterline” were thrown around.

I think they might have cried just a bit. Which is where Stu and I found them. Crying in their beer at the sports bar.

“We’ll never get to go fishing now!,” they exclaimed. “That damned boat is going to cost a fortune to put to rights! All that structural repair stuff below decks, who can we get to do that? They’ll take every cent we’ve got!”

Stu, never being one to resist a challenge, sipped a beer and calmly assessed the caterwauling going on three stools away. “Just where is this tub docked, anyway?”

In short order the four of us were onboard the Two Fools, with Stu crawling through the hull and occasionally shouting up his findings. “All your rotted stuff is supporting the decks, the hull and keel are fine. Be a helluva note to get those framing members out of there but it can be done. That and a lot of caulking, she’ll be good as new.”

Thus we were appointed ships carpenters. Stu even got to be a key holder.

He insisted on that, chiefly because the beer was locked up in the galley and he had to have a key to get at it.

So on a couple of sunny weekends, we toted new lumber down the pier and set up shop next to the bobbing Two Fools. Stu would get down in the hold and holler up dimensions, I would stand topside and cut lumber. Out with the bad wood, in with the good. Crusty sailors from other boats came by, attracted by the activity, chairs were produced, and within minutes the term “work party” took on new meaning. The Captains hovered solicitously nearby, fetching potables and snacks on demand, occasionally sticking a head in the hold to inquire about Stu’s progress.

We finished up in good time, the Two Fools now able to support weight and cargo with aplomb. The Captains were delighted, the Coast Guard was satisfied, the boat renewed. All around, a most happy project. JP and Billy Bob even found a new, more nautical friend who agreed to act as a real captain and show them how to operate the boat and take it out to sea

Billy Bob insisted on paying us. “You saved the boat! By God, you have to take something for it! Won’t take no for an answer!”

Stu and I demurred, drinking someone else’s beer while having fun and doing a bit of work for friends isn’t the sort of thing we feel needs compensation. We’re even a little crotchety about the concept. Doesn’t seem fair to encroach on someone’s hospitality that way.

We settled for a long afternoon onboard, idling away a sunny afternoon with sea tales and much silliness. And Stu was in the middle of relating our woes about moving north and the amount of stuff we had when Billy Bob leaned in and interrupted him.

“Wait a minute, let me get this straight. You got a lot of stuff to move, don’t want to make a dozen trips in a box van, right? I can’t believe you two. I mean, all you gotta do is ask, for Pete’s sake.”

I was a little bewildered. “What are you talking about, Billy Bob?”

He roared with laughter. “Well, hells bells! Didn’t I tell you that I own a trucking company? How do you think I afford all this seafaring life, anyway?”

So it was that we found ourselves yesterday, waving a 48-foot tractor-trailer back to the shop door. In the space of a few hours, we had packed the whole shop into it, with room to spare. And today, we will guide the truck northward 60 miles, to the new place, and unload the tractor-trailer. One trip, we’re done.

Just how much is all this going to cost us? Not a cent.

Somewhere, Captain Billy Bob is smiling. The contented smile of one who feels as though a debt has been taken care of. A few beers, a free truck, and his boat is sound. Life onboard the Two Fools is good.

And aside from the aching muscles I’ll have at the end of the day, I’d have to agree with him.

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