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The Best Gift of All
By Barb Hansen
December
 2011

Santa is making his list and checking it twice. Since you've been very nice I suggest you ask him for the best gift of all – family and friends. That's also known as boating.

Yes. There’s something about boating that insists that it be done in the company of others. It’s all about teamwork and accomplishing something together. It's about a common purpose, about strengthening relationships, about forging shared memories that last a lifetime.

A few years ago a single man took one of our live-aboard courses at Florida Sailing and Cruising School. Just student and instructor. They 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 him pointedly why did he want to cruise if he didn't have somebody to enjoy it with. The instructor told me the man thought about this for a long minute. Then he looked up and said, “I think I should think about being in a relationship.”

Well, yeah.

Relationship building is the main reason why I believe boating is the best possible gift. The gift is not the boat. Rather, the gift is commitment we make to each other. After that, you can look for a boat to buy or, like many, just decide to charter vessels for personal cruises.

Experts say there is a high correlation between boating and happiness, and I think the reason is they are doing it with people they care about. Heck, every time I go boating I know I'll get a positive charge times three: One, when Vic and I plan the cruise. Two, when we cruise. Three, when we remember the cruise.

As a matter of fact, some years ago the National Marine Manufacturer's Association sponsored some research that showed that boaters are happier than non-boaters. Maybe boaters are naturally happy even before they start boating but, whichever, boating always puts a big exclamation point on it.

So, you've got a boat and your favorite people are on board. Now what?

Make time for it. Everybody complains that they don’t have enough time. Well, when you’re hooked on it, boating motivates you to make time for it. It's that important. I heard about a physician in solo practice who wanted to go boating but he never had any time off. He figured out a solution. He went into practice with other doctors but he made a deal with them. The deal was each would take extended time off periodically for whatever they wanted to do and the other doctors would look after missing doctor’s patients while he was gone.

When you've moved the big parts of the picture into place I think you and yours will discover that the other pieces to life's happiness puzzle fall into place easily.

Some examples: there's a feeling of accomplishment. There's a lot to know and a lot to do when you're boating and a good job-well-done feeling at the end of the day and the end of the cruise. You'll get your rest. On a boat, you'll sleep like a baby. Naps are okay, too.

Oh yes, there's stress reduction. On the boat you'll be miles away, mentally and physically, from life's workaday burdens. You'll be loving the scenery. You'll be checking the nautical chart. At the end of the day you'll be placing the anchor so the boat drifts back to the perfect place on the planet for the sunset.

The best part is that even after the cruise is over and you're back doing what you do, the memories you made will always be with you. When I find my mind drifting into negative territory, I can jerk it back to the happy side of the scale by summoning up some delightful cruise in the past.

It's a cliché, I know, but the reason that boating is the best gift of all is that it never stops giving back. If you’re already boating, make time for more. If you’re not may I just remind you that Santa is making a list.
 

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Marinatown Marina 26° 38.5'N 81° 53.0'W
Burnt Store Marina 26° 45.71' N 82° 04.20'W


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