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
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.