“Free on Craiglist” and other words of doom

Can we get some credit for how many stupid ideas we don’t act on?

We have a trampoline, but not an in-ground trampoline.
We have zero life-sized, purple hippopotamuses rescued from defunct mini golf places, despite a clear opportunity.
We have many broken chairs and couches, but none of them has been packed with topsoil, covered with chicken wire, and planted with grass seed to make living lawn furniture.

We have a washing machine drum flower planter for our statue of Mary

but we do not have a permanent porch fixture made from the industrial-sized colander that wouldn’t fit through the door, much less in my sink.

And we still don’t have any damn ducks. Not a single khaki campbell duck, noted for its high egg production, paddling happily in an in-ground (free on Craigslist!) hot tub in harmony with a booming population of meat turtles.

We do have a beloved canoe

($100 on Craigslist! Billed as “The world’s ugliest canoe,” and so it is). But we do not have a large, ungainly, unrealistic project boat sitting stupidly in our yard as a testament to our inability to turn a thing down just because it’s free on Craigslist.


This fine vessel was free on Craigslist

and we’re fixing to drag it down to the stream, chain it to some trees on either side, and sit back while our kids enjoy the greatest childhood known to mankind since that kid got stuck on that island with that horse.

There are a few issues. One is that the boat is gutted

We are about 73% sure this happened because someone started renovating and then realized it was too much work, and not because it is a murderboat. (I’m sure that head-sized compartment I can’t bring myself to open is just full of maps and sunblock. I’m sure of it.)

So we need a floor. Gonna lay some slats across it, then fit a board over that, screw everything down, and voilà . It just needs to be sturdy and safe,

not seaworthy or lovely.

The second issue is that the boat is in the yard, but the stream is in the back back back backyard, over the grass, around the firepit, through some thorns, across the Dead Marshes, and on the other side of a sturdy bank of trees and rocks and maybe some barbed wire I’ve been meaning to take care of.

But the boat has already more than paid for itself, in two distinct ways.

One is that my husband and I both learned how to use a trailer hitch.


The Craigslist ad said “Dont want to answer questions just want it gone,” so no one (sober) was available to help us mount the boat trailer (free on Craigslist!) to the vehicle.

It seemed simple enough, though: You stand there shouting at your husband, “Back-back-back-back-back-back-back, keep going, keep going, a little this way, this way, this way, back-back-back-back-back, keep goNO STOP!!!!!” until the ball part is perfectly situated under the trailer thingy.

Then you shove it with your foot a little, wind the crank until it’s all lined up, clamp the clamp thingy, hook up the chains, remove the wheel blocks, and . . . you are good to go? I guess?

So off we crept, and O YE GODS AND O YE LITTLE FISHES, what a horrible noise it made. It was a noise to freeze the marrow in your bones, a grinding, scraping, clattering, screeching squeal that proclaimed to all ears within fifty miles, “Here indeed are people who should not have a boat!”

We just kept going. I asked my husband if he wanted me to look up the hand signals for right and left; but for some reason, traffic was doing a very good job of avoiding us all by itself.

We made the perilous turn off the dirt road onto the highway. Only another mile or two until we reached home. At this point (and this is the second benefit of boat ownership we’ve already enjoyed) we had each lost about fourteen pounds of weight through the sheer isometric exercise of clenching every muscle in our bodies in abject fear.

My husband fixated mainly on the boat breaking loose, roaring freely down the highway, and crushing an unsuspecting mailman flat. I, though, couldn’t stop thinking about how it would feel when we hit a downhill slope, the hitch snapped, and the boat came charging through the rear window to devour us like an avenging whale.

What happened instead was that the horrible sound got even more horrible, until we couldn’t stand it anymore. My husband pulled over to a shoulder, and gathered his courage to softly asked that fatal question: “Is it supposed to be making that noise, do you think?”

I muttered through aching teeth, “Well . . . I think that little wheel in the front . . . is not making contact with the ground the whole time . . . and the noise we’re hearing . . . is when it is making contact. So maybe if we turn the crank, we can make it move . . . .”

I was going to say “down,” so that the wheel would be on the ground the whole time we were driving.

And then it hit me: That little wheel is not supposed to be touching the ground. It’s just there to hold the trailer stable while you load your boat up, and then you’re supposed to crank it up out of the way. Our only clue that this was so: This wheel is about five inches across, and about as sturdy as your average rollerblade wheel, and is very clearly not intended for highway travel. I’m sorry, did you not get the word? We are people who should not have a boat.

So we skipped out of the car and cranked that sucker up as high as it would go, got back in, and cruised home as silently and smoothly as if the boat were already in water. Which it will be, as soon as we figure out how to get it across the yard.


Hey, we didn’t bring home any ducks. That has to count for something.




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14 thoughts on ““Free on Craiglist” and other words of doom”

  1. You’re the best, Simcha – I laughed so hard! Hope you and your family have a great time with the new boat

  2. As far as I can tell, getting the trailer free puts you ahead. Every free boat I see on Craigslist is quite clear that the trailer is not included.

  3. Oh, my gosh. This is so funny. I needed some laughs. The reply from Anna Lisa is also funny and so well written. Oh, heck, I loved the whole thing, from title through the replies.

  4. My neighbors have a boat like this. They use it as a planter. No joke. We amuse ourselves by thinking of ways to destroy it that would not cast suspicion on ourselves. (“Oh, the boat? Yeah, it exploded on the 4th of July. Must have been fireworks when you were out of town camping”). (“What happened to your boat? I don’t know – – someone had 2 tons of topsoil delivered on it, and it got buried somehow.”) I also harbor a fantasy of getting a really big Mary statue, and placing it by the alley, and she can be blessing the boat (because the owners of the boat are rather anti-Catholic).

  5. Boats make me vibrate with anticipation.

    My Father really didn’t like to take vacations so much, but the two (three?) times we went to the Sea of Cortez were some of the happiest times of my entire childhood. That’s when my foxy Grandpa (what we called him, don’t judge) took the wheel, and made my Dad take a back seat. He taught us all how to drive on an abandoned airstrip there, and took us on wild rides through the desert on the back of his motorcycle. My dad suffered from motion sickness that was a terrible purgatory, and a sacrifice, so he mostly suffered on the sidelines. He once got dropped off on a tiny rock in the ocean covered with bird guano just so we could continue our apprenticeship.

    My grandpa had a boat just like yours, not much better, except it had a motor. He docked it in the most quintessentially beautiful little Mexican marina. The water was like glass even under the dirty boats of the fisherman. My (foxy) Grandpa (who bought us Fanta, sweet rolls, and took us to eat in strange places, bringing judgement from my miserable father) played old Mexican boleros on a scratchy record player at night, while roasting fish on an open air fire on the concrete patio. That’s when the ocean hosted the most spectacular sunsets, while the mountains behind us (“Las Tetas”) (Mexicanos sucios) hosted dry lightening storms with Arizona.

    When the mornings were new, Foxy Grandpa gave us fishing poles and taught us how to hunt Dorado. He would take off like a bat out of hell from the marina (this is why I can never truly appreciate an amusement park ride). Dorado is like nothing else. It swims in a school. When it catches the light it has scales that mirror the entire rainbow. You can see the school coming from yards and yards away.

    My husband says they caught the same fish in Ecuador, but they called it “Lisa”. For several summers, when my husband was the same age (roughly 10) he stayed in a tiny fishing village called Ayangue. His Mom was bored of 20th century life in Quito and Guayaquil where her husband worked endlessly. I have to give her a ton of credit for choosing such a venue given her cosmopolitan predilections, but my husband will never forget it. They had no electricity there. The water came from a cistern on the roof that depended on rain. The house was on stilts in case of storm surges. He mostly slept in a Speedo underneath the house, in a hammock because it was the coolest spot. To this day the sound of the ocean while going to sleep grants him joy. He didn’t take the Speedo off for days between the lobsters and the Lisa. He liked to play with the huge lobsters on the kitchen floor before they stoically met their fate. Everyone always shared their catch with their friends, just like the fisherman that caught the Lisa. They would ring a bell that the the entire village could hear when the massive school came into the bay, and everyone who helped share in the catch was treated generously. My husband and his two brothers eagerly dove into the ocean to help pull the nets.

    Their friends in the house next door were Germans that had lived there since the mid 40’s. They shared their fish and lobster and played a lot of cards into the night. It was even better when my husband’s Dad would make the trip on the week ends. They played some scratchy albums, opened some bottles and got along quite well.

  6. O Simcha, better you should spare yourselves so much pain and heartache by leaving that soul sucking hole in the water into which you will pour more money than you ever thought a “free” item could ever cost you. Better to leave it on the side of the road and only hope someone drags it away before you are lured into pulling it through the dead marsh and the nightmare gets scarier.
    My husband is the only person ticketed in the state of Florida for causing a boat/bus accident. Thank God there were very few injuries but his self esteem never recovered and many people still wet their pants laughing about it 15 years later. Yes, a trailer was involved. You mentioned the possibility of the boat charging through the back window and gobbling you like an avenging whale….how bout slipping off the trailer and slamming into a piece of the public transportation system while its transporting public? Wiped the smile right off that attorney’s billboard plastered on the side of the bus. The public transit people AND the attorney wrote lots of nasty letters about that. Simcha, get rid of that boat while you still can.

  7. My brother recently sold his boat. For quite some time before that, he always left a slight pause when speaking of it (“the… boat”) so as to allow one to mentally fill in whatever adjective one felt most fitting. It was pretty clear what class of adjectives *he* thought should go in the space.
    It’s ridiculous how alluring the word “free” is, no matter how useless the item. It’s why we have a lot of broken dressers.

  8. I just leave stuff out on the street in NYC early in the morning. People snatch up anything. I like to think of it as recycling.

  9. That’s exactly how I ended up with two awfully big computer cabinets with no guts. Cardboard plus carpet scraps and my two daughters ended up with perfect space capsules. When there were more daughters they became perfect rabbit homes and after we got proper hutches a fox called Mulder lived in them.

  10. My son-in-law has been steadily acquiring more and more animals since we moved to a rural area. We actually do have some Khaki Campbells. They are going to turn into meat. That’s what I hear, but I’ve never seen anybody in the family butcher a bird, so we’ll see what really happens.

    On the other hand, we do NOT have a boat, and that’s a very good thing.

    1. I had Khaki Campbells, and Muscovies. The eggs are delicious! So is the meat. But they make so.much.mess! I no longer have them.

      However, I have never gotten a boat off Craigslist.

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