Roger "Pete" Schloemann estimates he has owned 30-plus boats in his 76 years.
"All my big boats have been 'Re-Petes,'" said Pete, who lives in Swansea and docks his current three at Harbor Point Yacht Club in West Alton.
Walk past Lil' Shooter and Low Bid on a foggy Saturday morning and you'll find Pete -- a trim, tan guy with a neat white beard -- at the end of the dock. If he's not mopping the deck of the 42-foot Re-Pete, he's inside making sure the engine is in top shape.
What does Pete like about boats?
"Just being around them."A car mechanic by trade, Pete owned Rog's Auto Service in Swansea until he retired in 1995.
"I would rather work on a boat," he said. "New cars are so complex with their computers. Older boats don't have computers. I buy a lot of older boats, spend three or four years working on them, and decide I want something different."
That's why the latest Re-Pete is for sale.
He bought the 37-year-old twin-engine yacht two years ago.
"Mainly the price. A fellow got divorced. He needed money, not a boat. I had to do a lot of cleaning. I got it buffed out where it really shines like any boat. It's an old boat, but does the job."
The Re-Pete has sleeping quarters, two showers, and a galley area.
"New it was $100,000," he said, stepping inside. "I'll be lucky to get $25,000 to $30,000 for it. You lift up hatches here in back to work on the engines. That's the worst part. It's pretty compact."
But he enjoys it.
"It's work. It keeps me active. I'm going to be 77 in November. It keeps me in halfway good shape."
Usually, his wife Janet is alongside, but she was preparing for a family party that day.
"My wife enjoys the company out here," he said, "the social part of it. We've made a lot of friends here, had a lot of fun ... We sit around, have a few beers, BBQ together. We're usually up here every week." Until the weather sends him to his condo in Naples, Fla., where he's more likely to rent a boat.
Pete has liked being on the water since his teens when his uncle gave him a little 10-foot wooden racing boat.
"I didn't have it very long. The second boat was a 12-foot aluminum boat when I graduated from high school. It went from there. I married young. We had a baby. I had to sell a boat to pay for the baby."
But he always managed to buy another.
"The kids (He has 5, along with 9 grandchildren and 2-great-grandchildren) grew up boating and skiing."
Photos of his boats fill a scrapbook. There's the homemade pontoon on the Kaskaskia in '63; on Kentucky Lake in '65 wth the kids. He had an 18-foot formula boat in 1976 and a 1989 Cherokee aluminum that he'll always remember.
"I lost a finger with that one. I had my hand on the dock, holding the boat when someone stepped on the dock. It tore off my finger."
His favorite was the 44-foot Trojan, a motor yacht cruiser that was set up to sleep six. He owned it in the mid-1990s.
"It had a pretty luxurious layout and looked really attractive."
Why did he sell it?
"I bought a condo in Florida and needed more money to put down and bought a cheaper 50-foot houseboat."
Besides the 42-foot Blue Water brand Re-Pete, Pete has a 24-foot Lowe pontoon and a 15-foot Boston Whaler with a center console.
The number of friends around determines which boat he takes out.
"The pontoon operates more efficiently and is a lot faster (than the big boat)," he said. "When it's real hot, you can cool off out there."
He never tires of the ride along the bluffs between Alton and Grafton.
"This is the prettiest 15 miles you are going to find anywhere," Pete said, looking across the river. "If you go a thousand miles in every direction -- because I've been a thousand miles away -- there's nothing as pretty as what we have right here.
"And it's not crowded like Lake of the Ozarks. Take a ride during the week and there are a couple fishing boats, maybe a couple other boats. That's about it. A few barges. Just stay clear of them."
That morning, he started up the little motorboat, and set off about the harbor to look at boat names. There were plenty, from Impossible Dream III and Let's Dance to Never Say Never Again and Love Story.
Pete knows how that one got its name.
"The guy that put the 'Love Story' on the boat is a friend of mine," he said. "It used to be Foxy Arlene. His first wife died; later, he met and married his high school sweetheart."
Considering buying a boat? Here's Pete's advice: "Do it. It's a lot of fun, but it costs a lot of money. If you can do your own work, it makes a bit difference."