This is the time of year when gift-giving is on
everyone’s mind. The options are mind-boggling from
the latest in electronic gadgetry to a dazzling
array of jewelry and a good bit in between. I would
like to make a suggestion for your gift-giving list
that I feel pretty confident you will enjoy this
year and well into the future. It began with an
“A-Ha moment” one of our “students” -- a single man
-- had while taking one of our liveaboard yacht
courses all by himself.
The student and the instructor spent a day covering
all the basics right up to anchoring for the night.
The student did well. The day was done. But then he
asked the instructor what he should do after
anchoring and securing the boat. Our instructor
asked what kind of cruising he planned to do, the
student lamented that he had no one to cruise with.
His instructor admitted that it would be more fun to
share the experience with someone special. The man
pondered this for some long, silent moments. Then he
said, “I need to think about being in a
relationship.” Sailing and cruising are all about
sharing experiences and making memories that will
last a lifetime.
Yes! There’s something about boating that insists,
practically and emotionally, that it be done in the
company of others. Cruising, especially, is made for
couples and families. It’s a shared adventure. It’s
all about teamwork and accomplishing something
together. In my book, cruising together is the
ultimate in quality time.
Relationship building is one of five reasons why I
believe that boating is the best possible gift that
families can give each other. The gift is not the
boat. Rather, the gift is commitment that couples
and families make to boating and to each other.
After that, you can look for a boat to buy or, like
many, just decide to charter vessels for cruises.
When you take up boating, you will discover that you
have been adopted by another family, the nautical
family. In case you didn’t know, we look after each
other out there on the water. We wave to people we
don’t know in passing boats; we rescue people we
don’t know in stranded boats; we yuk it up with
people we don’t know in adjacent slips.
The third reason that I believe boating is the
perfect gift is that it balances your life. It
requires a different set of mental and physical
skills. It removes you, mentally and physically,
from whatever it is you do in the workaday world.
And I’m convinced all that fresh air and exercise
turns boaters into the best day nappers and solid
night time sleepers in the world.
By the way, research sponsored by the boating
industry suggests that boaters are happier and
healthier than non-boaters. Almost seven out of ten
say boating has brought their family closer
together. And children exposed to boating are
healthier, less shy, team players, and more likely
to be leaders.
Everybody complains that they don’t have enough
time. Well, when you’re hooked on it, boating
motivates you to make time for it. I recently heard
about a physician who wanted to go boating but he
never had any time off. Desire won. He closed his
solo practice and went into practice with other
doctors. The deal was they each would take extended
time off periodically for cruising and other trips
and the other physicians would look after the absent
doctor’s patients while he was gone. I think they’re
all better people because of that decision.
Especially the boating doctor.
The last and maybe the best reason why boating is
the perfect gift is that boating is your magic
carpet back into the last frontier. It returns you
to an environment where the “road” will never be
paved and where the natural world prevails. At
night, the sounds are sounds of fish jumping or
waves lapping, not 18-wheelers whining out there on
the Interstate highway. Communing with nature may be
a cliché but it is still uplifting.
If you’re already boating, plan more. If you’re not,
talk about it with the people you love and I’ll bet
it will be added to your shopping list somewhere
near the top. Happy Holidays!