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Retirement project is a 'not for sale' boat

April 02, 2006|By CANDICE BOSELY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Maybe when the time comes to christen her, John Cook can name his old fiberglass boat "Not for Sale."

After all, that's what's been emblazoned in paint on the starboard side of the boat for a while, as anyone who has driven north on Sharpsburg Pike likely knows.

It wasn't always the case.

Cook, 64, was once simply an admirer. After spotting the boat outside of a house not far from his own, he finally stopped about three years ago to ask the older man who owned the boat whether it was for sale.

Cook had thought the boat was wooden and was worried it was going to rot if someone did not restore it.

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"It had been sitting there and sitting there and sitting there," he said.

A closer inspection showed the boat was made not of wood, but of fiberglass. Dreams, though, often are carved in stone, and Cook was not dissuaded.

Fifty dollars later, he owned the boat that has more character than innards.

A steering wheel is mounted and the boat's three windows are intact, but the rubber framing around them has cracked and is rotting. The boat has no seats, no motor and little, if any, electronic or mechanical equipment.

Its hull is filled with water, some type of green mossy-like substance, dead leaves and a few glass bottles.

Still, Cook gazes upon his boat with pride and talks about taking it to the Potomac River. Both he and his wife enjoy fishing.

"She'd like to see it get done, too," Cook said.

Since the day Cook parked the boat near a copse of trees on his land, a fair number of curiosity seekers have trod the steps to Cook's front door and rung the old buzzer doorbell.

"A lot of people stopped and asked if it was for sale," he said.

That, of course, was before Cook used some green and silver paint to write "NOT FOR SALE" on its side.

Before painting the boat, Cook did not think too much of the unexpected guests. That changed when he went on vacation and a neighbor had to keep going to his place to greet the onlookers and tell them the boat wasn't for sale.

The neighbor suggested Cook somehow indicate as much.

"I've only had two people stop and ask why it wasn't for sale," Cook said.

A couple of students - Cook guessed they were from Shepherd University - wanted to photograph the boat. Cook let them.

Based on the shape of the boat, Cook guesses it might have been made in the 1960s or 1970s. It is made of two pieces, with the top portion screwed to the lower section. On its bow is an emblem or logo that resembles two interlocking "V"s - Cook does not know what the logo means.

A major overhaul of the boat is needed, and Cook couldn't guess how much that will cost.

"I don't even want to think about that," he said. "It doesn't matter."

Repairing the boat is his retirement project.

A former corrections officer who worked at Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg, W.Va., and at the Maryland Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown, Cook now works for a security company at Citicorp.

He knows how much time remains before he can retire and turn his attention to his boat: Less than three years until his boat is a boat, not the butt of good-natured jokes.

He receives some ribbing from friends, including the owner of a nearby gas station, who likes to ask Cook this question: "Do you know where I can buy a boat that's not for sale?"

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