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Is Your Boat a “Gadget-Free Zone?”

By Barb Hansen
February 2017

I recently sold a boat to a client. The seller had named the boat “CP Free.” Not wanting to insult the seller by saying something like, “what kind of a name is that?” I waited until the deal was nearly done before asking what the significance of the name was.

The boat owner told me about how his business required him to always be plugged in to his cell phone. Rather than the kids being guilty of never putting their electronic devices away, in this case it was Dad who was always on his cell phone or checking email. It got to be so bad that when he bought the boat for the family to enjoy, the kids named it “CP Free,” as in a “Cell Phone Free” zone.

The name was also the mantra for the family while cruising. In fact, whenever they were on the boat everyone had to put their cell phones and other electronic devices in a basket. No one was allowed to use them while on board.

That got me thinking about the technological changes that have taken place in the 30 plus years we have been in business. Naturally, many of those advances have brought a lot of good to the world – advances in technology, medicine and robotics that we could not have imagined three decades ago. However, there is a time and place for everything, including a time to disconnect from phones,iPads, computers, games, etc. Being on a boat, spending time with family, friends and the natural world is definitely one of those times.

We were on a boat in Alaska a few years ago and there was a teenager with his parents on board.  He would sit in his family’s cabin with his “gadgets” playing games and what have you, missing most of the beautiful natural wonders all around us.  His parents literally had to call him on deck to come and see the whales, porpoises, glaciers and whatever else came into view while the rest of us were on deck all of the time – in jackets, hats and gloves – so we wouldn’t miss one bit of the natural splendor that was before us.

Here at home (and I’m sure where you live, too) there are an increasing number of restaurants that are rewarding customers who turn off their cell phones while they dine.  I have also heard other people say that when they go out to dinner, everyone has to put their phones in the middle of the table.  If anyone has to use their phone during dinner, they get to pick up the tab for all at the table.

I’d like to see something like that extended to boats. They all should have a “gadget-free zone,” unless they are being used as a navigational and/or weather aid.  Instead of looking down at your phone, look up and around at the beauty that surrounds you. 

We have a friend who suffers from such a serious texting and Facebook afflictions that she misses what is going on in the world around her. Rather than enjoying the sunset or watching the kids fish off the dock, she is sitting there with head down tap, tap, tapping away, missing that special time together. That is the time when she could be talking with her children about the birds that flew by or the fish that they caught.

But if you do get a text, tweet or a call while on board or with family and friends, it would be OK to politely message back -- Sorry can’t respond, I’m in a GFZ for the next few days.  I’ll get back in touch when I return.

I like that and I think it would work.  We all need to “disconnect” every now and then.

 

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Marinatown Marina 26° 38.5'N 81° 53.0'W
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