Boating Is An Adventure

Reflections from afloat

Much of boating’s appeal stems from leaving one environment and engaging with another. A leaping fish, the way the light changes, the infinite and ever-present motion; all of these are decidedly un-land-like. Our boats are therefore not just conveyances that float, but rather portals that transport us to another state of being. No two days on the water are the same, and to our friends and neighbors who might decry the sport as one that takes too much time, we can rally and retort, “ that’s the point.”

Boating is rejuvenation.

Everyday on the water is different. The most experienced boaters will back me up on this. And everyday, therefore, holds adventure for we who slip the lines, turn the key and crease the waves with vessels great and small. Yes, there are those lucky among us who get to take cruises of a lifetime. They cross the oceans, do The Great Loop, or simply set out for months, gunkholing their way along the coast. But boaters need not fulfill such grand ambitions in order to enjoy adventure and excitement.

Composing this editorial at my keyboard, recalling the first time I slept aboard my own boat 35 years ago, I can still experience the butterflies of anticipation that fluttered in my stomach as I headed out into the dusk of an early fall evening. My destination? Just across the bay.

Boating adventure can take many forms. The first time heading out to the other end of the lake or through the inlet constitutes adventure. So does the first time you “get up” on a slalom ski or wake surfer or even the first time you get to take your family out and tow them on a tube. And who could deny that our angling brothers and sisters partake of adventure whether chasing smallmouths or sailfish.

We boaters take our adventures for granted, sometimes, I think. Seeing the wind in ripples before it’s felt; viewing the heavens doubled due to starlight reflecting on slick- calm waters; being present, to paraphrase Pamela Hansford Johnson, *when the sky breaks like an egg into full sunset and the water catches fire *— it’s easy to forget after the first few times experiencing these events that we boaters are privileged.

Of course some adventures we might well do without, though on the whole I think many of these improve our state of being. That thunderstorm that rolls in all green and purple and loud and oozing the odor of ozone is way scarier aboard a boat than anywhere on land. But the spectacle of such a storm; the intimacy with it that comes when experienced from aboard a boat, is something that land-bound folks can never experience. Nor can they enjoy the satisfaction achieved from having practiced the seamanship that brings crew and boat through such events.

Everday on the water is different. Everyday is an adventure.

Truer words were never written.