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The Real Freedom of Boating
By Barb Hansen
July 2, 2003

When Vic and I leave the dock a thought always comes to my mind, along with a feeling of exhilaration. I think, Wow, free at last. I'm free at last from the office and all the minute by minute commotion of the office.

Don't get me wrong. Vic and I love our work, and we work hard and long. We don't get out on the boat as much as you might imagine. So when we get to cruise, it feels like freedom to me.

We Americans have been living out our destiny of freedom ever since. Still, after all the centuries and decades, we still debate what freedom means.

We'll leave the ideological debate over the meaning of freedom for another time. As boaters, we care about the physical freedom of getting in our vessels, untying the lines, and sailing or powering away from the dock. For us, the American "spirit" is synonymous with the freedom of boating. Boating lets us escape from our daily routine and lifts us up to a place we long to be, close to that which we hold dear - family, friends, and the beauty of the world around us.

As boaters in America, and especially in Florida, we are the envy of many boaters around the globe. In our business, our charter customers and boating students come from countries around the world. We have the freedom to buy the boat we want to buy, or the boat we can afford to buy with the resources we have. We have the freedom to cruise where we want to cruise; to return home each night, or stay away for weeks or months at a time. In fact, unlike driving or flying, as adults we have the freedom to pilot a boat with no federal license requirement, whether we are qualified or not! Sure, there are rules to follow and matters of nautical etiquette to consider, but for the most part we boaters police ourselves. When the Declaration of Independence was issued there were not that many laws and even less law enforcement. In those days the society functioned because most people chose to do good. They chose good because it was the right thing to do, because that was the kind of society they wanted, not because they were going to get hauled off to jail if they choose evil instead.

We have the freedom to choose what type of nautical society we want. And we choose to be good boaters, and good citizens, because that's the kind of society we want on the water.

As far as recreation goes, boating offers freedom of another kind. When was the last time you waited in line to go boating? Think about it. There are no serpentine lines, ticket-taking lines, hand-stamping lines, conveyor-belt boat moving lines, "is your vessel this tall" lines, boat "fast-food" lines (or is it "fast-boat" food lines? Whatever.), or "please take a number" lines! We leave the dock, we cruise, and we return to port on our own schedule. That's the meaning of freedom that boating can teach to landlubbers.

So, let's go boating. Welcome Aboard.

Click here to visit out Sailing School website!

Southwest Florida Yachts
3444 Marinatown Lane N.W. • North Fort Myers • Florida 33903
(239) 656-1339 (800) 262-7939 Fax (239) 656-2628

Marinatown Marina 26° 38.5'N 81° 53.0'W
Burnt Store Marina 26° 45.71' N 82° 04.20'W


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