According to Jerry Tilley, captain of the Aleutian Ballad, a crab boat featured in TV’s “The Deadliest Catch,” the scene in which a 60-foot rogue wave catches his 107-foot boat broadsides and flips it onto its beam end is one of the most-watched excerpts of the hit show on YouTube, with more than 1.45 million views. Yes, the captain and crew do it for the money — a $1 million payday is not unusual for a good haul — but they also head out into the Bering Sea because they love the challenges. These adventurers were leaving the safety of port long before they became famous on The Discovery Channel, and they will continue long after the public’s fascination with them has run its course. I’m on a seven-day cruise with my 9-year-old son Bradley. We’re on the Inside Passage to Alaska, starting and finishing in Seattle, with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. I enjoy cruises — but not for the endless consumption of bowtie pasta or chocolate desserts — or the interminable entertainment from lounge singers who are well past the peak of their careers. I like to sit at a window and watch the ship cut through the water at a relentless 18-knot pace. Unless they are in port, these ships are on the move 24 hours a day. I can enjoy a glass of good red wine while the scenery passes by — without once having to worry about shifting gears, hitting the apex of a turn, or whether the Ruby Princess would carve through the turns better if I replaced its suspension bushings with upgraded polyurethane ones. In short, I am simply enjoying being a spectator. And, unlike traveling by jet, I can get up and walk around, go to the exercise room or watch Bradley play endlessly in one of the many hot tubs and pools. Of course, I’ve also been thinking about our car-collecting world.

Challenges and Monterey Car Week

With Monterey Car Week coming up, I’ve been musing about why we collectors do the things we do. Why do fly-fishing fanatics clamber down steep banks to catch that elusive rainbow trout — only to set it free? Recently, why did five of us drive three 50-year-old Alfa Romeos a total of 3,300 miles over the backroads of Oregon and Washington? We could have gotten to our destinations faster and in much more comfort in modern cars. What compels us to journey into difficult, complicated situations when simply buying a new car would be a lot less hassle? I guess that those of us attracted to adventure and challenge are always looking for an escape from the ordinary. We relish the path less traveled — whether it is Jerry Seinfeld leading the Beater Speedster Pack or Ken Gross assembling the definitive group of Ford GT40s for Pebble Beach. We market-watchers relish the thoughtful — and slightly obtuse — challenge of predicting values. We wonder if Ferrari SWBs have peaked and whether Volvo P1800s are about to zoom. This year’s Monterey promises to be full of surprises. Will the value rise in late-model Ferraris with manual transmissions continue? We’ll learn just how much of a premium three-pedal fanatics are willing to pay for gearboxes that are clearly inferior to the modern paddle-shift models. Will the mass-produced Ferrari 308s and 328s continue to rise and start selling for double their original sticker prices? Will sanity prevail?

Hundreds of bidders, millions of dollars

Last year, 860 bidders became new owners during Monterey Car Week, and they spent nearly $400m to realize their fantasies. Some finally achieved the fantasy car they had always hankered for. Some snapped up bargains. Others decided that the time was right for an air-cooled 911. Others decided it was time to have a Countach in their man cave — positioned just under the poster of Farrah Fawcett bought while still in high school. Will Brexit and the collapse of the English pound mean that English buyers will disappear from the high-end collecting arena? Will any U.K.-owned high-end Bentleys and Rolls be for sale in Monterey, or will their owners simply pack them away and wait for more favorable exchange rates? Will the uncertainties attached to the upcoming U.S. presidential election cause collectors to sit out until after November — or will they decide that the current unknowns created lower prices that lead to buying opportunities?

Questions and thrill rides

More than any other Monterey in my memory, this one is full of question marks. However, I can state this with certainty: When the 2016 Monterey Car Week is over, nearly 1,000 collectors, fantasizers and riverboat gamblers will have said goodbye to at least one car and hello to at least one other. Unlike vacation ships, old-car enthusiasts are never on cruise control. They never move predictably from one port to the next. Collectors are always looking to fulfill a long-held passion (how often have you heard, “I’ve always wanted one of those”?) and to find an unfair advantage. “He had a great car in the wrong venue; there were no bidders in the room, so I stole the car.” Sound familiar? I predict Monterey this year will be a roller coaster. The first-ever-built, Carroll Shelby-owned Cobra that RM Sotheby’s is offering may well be the first eight-figure Shelby roadster. My only advice is to arrive early and stay late at all the auctions. With more than 1,200 cars offered, something is bound to fall through the cracks — and you want to be there with your bidder’s paddle when it happens. I’ve been watching and participating in Monterey Car Week for more than 20 years, and I look forward to this year more than any other — for what it will tell us about where the hot buttons are for collectors today. I’m sure we will all be surprised when this year’s voyage is over. ♦

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