Sunday, April 27, 2008

At the Ochshin

A dozen or so years ago a bunch of us attended a land auction in Washburn, WI with the intent of expanding the acreage of our deer camp in western Bayfield County. When it was over we all headed out to camp and my buddys young daughter, now a freshman at UMass, thought this monumental event should be entered in the camp journal and wrote, "We all came out to camp after we got done at the ochshin".

Yesterday Midwest Mountaineering had their annual canoe and kayak auction. It was definitely a buyers market. All the sellers brought their craft to offer but many buyers looked at the 35F (1C) temps and the horizontal blowing snow and decided maybe they would just take a peek at CraigsList instead. There were many bargains to be had. A Klepper Aerius II went for $700, a P&H Capella RM for $775, and a NDK Greenlander Pro sold for $1,100. GalwayGuy and I were looking to upgrade the Valley Skerry RM to a better, more stiffer, faster boat that would be fun to roll. A friend in Washburn has had his eye on the Skerry so it would not be subject to the uncertainty of the auction block. The auction is a tradition almost as old as humanity itself. While its almost certainly predated by the worlds "oldest profession" it has to be close and appeals to the base emotions of competition and desire. While not as powerful as lust, I think that both are right at the base of Maslow's pyramid. The human dynamic at the auction is almost as entertaining as the bidding process itself.

I had considered bidding on the Capella RM since this was the boat that GG and I had identified as a 'keeper' at Canoecopia. We also took a break from our safety boating duties on Thursday and paddled a RM and also a carbon fiber Capella at the soggy demo beach. I let the Capella RM pass when it came up for bid however. I needed to see what that bright yellow, almost new looking Capella 169 in the carbon fiber/kevlar layup would go for. Of course you pretty much knew who was going to bid on it before the auction. Just look for the people that were checking it out and bad mouthing it out loud (I think the skeg cable is kinked; is this a crack in the gel coat??). By now the auction was nearing its end after 2 1/2 hours, the crowd had thinned considerably, and shivering was a bit more pronounced. The P&H Capella 169, carbon fiber/kevlar layup, hit the blocks and when the smoke cleared I owned it. I had sent GalwayGuy in to man the SKOAC booth since the auction ran into my shift; the first thing he asked me when I walked up was whether or not we got the Capella RM. I had to tell him nope, we didn't and he looked a just a little disappointed. Then I told him we got the carbon fiber model and he was a bit incredulous. I don't know if its the fact that I've 'bs-ed' him a bit in the past or he just wanted to see the boat. He grabbed the car keys, ran out to the parking lot and returned with a smile on his face. At that point GG, BjornDahlieOfMahtomedi, and I needed to raise a Summit pale ale to toast the new vessel. How much did I get the boat for? Sorry, can't tell you, you might want to buy it from us in a couple of years.