Spinney let me accompany him one afternoon while he did a marine survey of a sloop one of his regular customers was interested in buying. The sloop was on the hard, so Spinney first walked around, taking in the general lines and appearances of the boat. Next, he noted and mentioned to me items the general upkeep and condition of the boat.
“Many people think a coat of paint will hide disrepair, but you’re not only looking at the superficial, but you’re also looking at the deeper fitness of the vessel, and paint can only hide so much.”
Walking to the transom, he got up on a ladder, closed his eyes, and ran his hands along the wood. Then, smiling, he hopped down and brushed his hands off. ” Transom is overdue for work. If the owner ignored the transom that badly, the next spot I’ll check is the garboard planks.” The garboard planks are the wide planks closest to the keel. Spinney pulled out a long icepick and gave me a playful look, then he stabbed the garboard, and the ice pick slid in easily.
“Well, I’ll finish the survey, but I’d never advise Johnson to buy this sloop; too much work deferred too long and not enough maintenance. So forgo the basics this year, and in the next, you’ll have double the work to do on a wooden hull.”
On our way to Spinney’s boatyard, I opined that he must have a lot of experience in surveying to know what to look for when doing a survey. He gave me a narrow-eyed squinty look, shook his head, and reminded me that experience isn’t wisdom.
“Wisdom is acquired by understanding the lessons of experience. Most people go crazy gaining experience but take no time to examine its lessons. It’s all a rush to add something to a resume. Years go by, and they haven’t gained a single shard of wisdom from all that experience.”
This getting of wisdom is still something I work on bit by bit. It sounds so easy, but it’s so difficult.