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Cruising with Non-Boating Guests
By Barb Hansen
October 1, 2004

Did you see the cartoon about the invited couple arriving at the hosts’ vessel for the overnight cruise? The “vessel,” I should note, is a rather tiny thing.

The lady is wearing a miniskirt and high heels. He’s still wearing his rumpled suit from work. He has an overstuffed briefcase tucked under his arm. His shoulder is weighted down with golf clubs and tennis rackets. And everything else they could think of is stuffed into two huge, hard-sided suitcases. Oh, and the cell phone on his belt is ringing.

“We’re here,” she sings, waving a bottle of wine.

Some of you have met this well-meaning couple. The cartoon rather overstates the typical scenario, but makes the point clearly that non-boating guests just don’t know what to bring or what to wear when they’re invited to cruise.

We can also safely assume they do not know boating’s protocols. For example, they do not realize that on a boat it’s really bad form to take long showers or turn on the galley tap and let the water run. They don’t realize that reading lamps are used sparingly, if at all.

Well, you may reasonably ask, if guests are such a problem why do we even invite them to cruise with us? The reason is, we like them. They are our friends. We enjoy their company.

There’s something else. We like to boat. Time is short. So if they cruise with us we can enjoy our friends and the boat at the same time.

The challenge is, how do we gently educate new friends about the do’s and don’ts of cruising. We don’t want to hurt their feelings, but they need to know the rules of the boat and the protocols of boating.

I usually talk to the female ahead of time and tell her what to wear and what to bring and, importantly, what not to bring. I tell them the boat only has so much fresh water so we take quick and infrequent showers. I say boating is a lot like camping. Space is tight. Reading lights are fine when the boat is running or plugged in to power at a marina, but otherwise they just drain the batteries. Vic carries on the male version of that conversation with the man.

I’ve found it helpful to couch all the warnings in the context of the rewards of boating. Cruising is that way, I say. We give up so many of the luxuries in order to experience the joy of being on the water.

Some items are best discussed when the guests are on the boat and can see what you’re talking about. We show them the PFDs and how to put them on. We show them the first aid kit, the flashlight, the fire extinguishers. We tell them what to do with wet towels and such. We cover safety matters like never letting their hands get pinched between the boat railing and the pilings. Regarding the propane stove, we just simply ask them to let Vic or I take care of all the cooking and heating.

One of the problems is that guests want to be helpful. However, on a boat, if their volunteering is not channeled, it can be dangerous. You know what I’m talking about. I usually give our guests some real boating clean-up assignments in advance and ask them not to worry about doing anything else. That way they can make a real contribution to the cruise. They’ll feel better and so will you.

There is another reason why Vic and I like our friends to cruise with us. Ambassadors of boating that we are, we want all our friends to like boating, too. To do that, we’ve got to get them on the boat and give them a taste of the good life.

So we tell them ahead of time to shed those street clothes and get into water clothes. We tell them there won’t be time for golf, tennis, office work or cell phones.

But we also tell them there will be time for a sunrise from the bridge while taking the first few sips of coffee of the day. There will be time to watch dolphins surf the bow wave. And there will be time for watching a black sky carpeted from horizon to horizon with millions of brilliant stars.

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