Southwest Florida Yachts

Boats Versus Snow Skis
y Barb Hansen
April 2008

Vic and I have returned to Fort Myers from our annual Rocky Mountains skiing holiday. As usual, I welcomed our return to warmth, green grass, blue water and white boats nestled happily in their slips.

My sore back and knees also welcomed the opportunity to recover.

As usual after our ski trip and as I return to the duties of running our boat charter and liveaboard yacht school, I find my mind comparing skiing and cruising.

I see in skiers the same qualities that I admire so much in yacht cruisers. Skiers and cruisers challenge themselves physically and mentally. Both love the freedom of wide-open spaces. They appreciate the rewards to the mind and general well-being that come from a well-planned, well-lived vacation.

The scenery is spectacular and you feel on top of the world at 10,000 feet. Sea level scenery has its own psychological rewards like the feeling of oneness with nature you get when a pod of dolphins surfs your bow wave.

I really enjoy skiing but, for me, each new ski vacation seems to tilt the scales a bit toward cruising.

Consider the physical issue. Skiing takes its toll on a body. I used to blame muscle and joint soreness on the demands of runs like Deathís Door, Terminator and Hellís Gate. But now we opt for ski runs called Wanderer, Lazy Days and Easy Does It. And, still, soreness sets in. What's next, the bunny slopes?

I don't know the average drop-out age of senior skiers but I have to think that back soreness, bad knees, faulty hearts and high blood pressure commonly become tipping points for telling your spouse, "Not this year, dear." 

Neither boats nor skis can stop on a dime so both skippers and snow skiers are taught to give each other a wide berth for safety's sake. I think boating does a better job of teaching personal responsibility. This may be an apples and oranges comparison, but one more often sees accidents caused by another skier being out of control and I suspect that most skiers experience a close call daily. Some popular runs even assign the ski patrol to direct downhill traffic.

Cost is always a consideration.

If you and your family charter a boat, you'll pay a fee for the boat and a bill for stocking up at a grocery. You'll pay for an overnight marina slip or two but, to save money, you can anchor up for the night in a no-charge cove.

Fuel costs are generally reasonable. Sailors pay a pittance and motor-trawlers are especially miserly at the pump.

You outfit yourselves with clothes to stay warm and fashionable on and off the slopes. You rent or purchase skis, buy daily lift tickets and refuel yourselves at pricey on-mountain restaurants. You pay for condo/motel accommodations. Your cruising vessel, of course, includes your sleeping quarters and a galley. There's no charge for tickets to the daily dolphin show.

The going rate for skiing lessons is $100 per hour. If you require a boat captain to handle the vessel while you play, you can hire one at $200 a day.

It's just a guess but I would imagine that taking a family of five on a week-long ski vacation would lower the bank account by at least $10,000. Compare that to spending seven days aboard a "floating condo." Your fully-equipped trawler or motor yacht will cost half that.

Cruising gets the nod for operating temperatures. Here in Southwest Florida you'll not hear the word "layers" to describe boating outfits. On a boat we can cruise all week wearing the same pair of shorts and a few tee shirts. At the end of the week, the washing machine and its operator have an easier time of it.

By this time next year my aches and pains will have done away and I'm sure I'll be rejoining my fellow downhillers on the slopes.

In the meanwhile I welcome calls from all of you dyed-in-the-wool snow skiers interested in chartering a slow boat through our Florida paradise. That way you can do your own skiing-versus-cruising test.

You'll enjoy the change of pace and scenery, warmer temperatures and lower prices. Let me just add that it will be just the right cure for sore back and knees.

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