Head Games

A friend of mine once bought a boat named Half Moon. As I was servicing another boat in a partially secluded inlet, the friend and his wife drifted by, trolling for striper. I know the boat’s head was in pristine condition, because it hadn’t been out of the box for 20 years, but the owner’s wife proceeded to use the gunwale as a support and … you get the picture. The next day I called him and suggested he change the name of the boat to Full Moon. We thought it was hilarious. His wife hasn’t spoken to me in 26 years.

“Enclosed head” equates to a car’s “glove box.” Open your car’s glove box. Look through its contents. Ketchup packets, registration card, state inspection sticker, menus, owner’s manual, 200 napkins, salt packets, tire pressure gauge, Band-Aids, mints. I may have forgotten to tell you to remove the gloves from the glove box, but I doubt it, ’cuz there ain’t no gloves in the box!

I Googled center console enclosed heads and came up with a bunch of 25-foot and larger center consoles that had enclosed heads in the console. The very first one I looked at had a two-gallon bait bucket and attached rope atop what I thought might be a toilet, a throwable life cushion — no line — and several life jackets. I saw no reason to refute any truth in advertising laws with my questions. Subsequent boat ads didn’t show the enclosures’ insides. They probably held all the gloves from the car glove boxes.

Recently I had the opportunity to cure a tachometer problem in a 26-foot center console with an enclosed head. Because this was a high-quality boat, the dashboard had screws with washers and nuts, accessible only from inside the console. It took about 30 minutes to remove the contents of the console and stack them where nobody would get hurt: seven orange PFDs, still in plastic bags; two throwable life cushions, one without 50 feet of attached retrieval line, one with; an empty fire extinguisher, still in its box; expired flares; a five-gallon “mud bucket” that smelled suspicious; a small bucket full of lead trolling weights; another bucket full of lures and hooks; fishing rods; and at the bottom, a portable head still in the factory box. As I said, I moved it so I didn’t get hurt, lowered the protective cover for the backside of the gauges, reattached the sender wire for the port tachometer and proceeded to refill the console.

I charged the owner an hour’s labor for emptying and refilling the console, one-tenth of an hour for the five minutes it took to reattach the wire, and the service vehicle fee, for a total of $138. I thought the weather forecast had changed when he started blustering about the charges. I told him I had two schools of thought:

1. Take it to a brick-and-mortar dealer for repair at twice my labor rate, and wonder — while the boat sits in a caged lot for a few weeks — if what the dealer wrote about needing a new “frammis” had anything to do with anything. I came by within 24 hours and let him watch every part of the process.

2. Save himself a bunch of money and get hold of me to tell me he’d emptied the hold so I had room to work.

Now I see 40-foot center consoles powered by triple outboards with an enclosure at least six fishermen could sleep in — and use the head, were it accessible — but I know in my heart of hearts it’s just a big damned glove box with extra room for more ketchup.