The Pink Boat

One Canadian family's purchase of a pink Malibu Response water ski boat impacted their lives in ways they never imagined.

We bought a pink waterski boat. Seriously, it was almost ridiculous - who buys a pink waterski boat? Well we did, because, in what seemed like one day, my husband went from being a normal patriarch of a boating family, to a man crazily obsessed with waterskiing. None of us could have imagined what the pink ski boat and the sport of waterskiing would come to mean to our family.

The Bentley family on the pink Malibu
One pink ski boat = three happy girls.Courtesy of the Bentley Family

My husband is a fairly athletic fellow. (He will no doubt ask what I mean by a “fairly” athletic fellow if he ever reads this piece.) He loves all sports and seems to easily excel at most of them. When I met him he was a teenager living away from home playing hockey. So I knew early on what I was getting into. I knew he would have to work out every day. I knew we would be an active family. I knew the sports highlights would be on the TV as I tried to go to sleep. But still having known this, and despite being married to him for 15 years at the time, I was decidedly unprepared for the effects of the pink waterski boat.

Carolyn Bentley Slalom Skiing
Jay Bentley, the man behind the pink ski boat idea.Courtesy of the Bentley Family

One day at our lake my husband was offered the chance to ski behind an actual “ski boat.” I had no idea what that meant. At that time we just had a regular old boat. As all you waterskiers can imagine, our dinner that night was about one thing and one thing only. Skiing behind a waterski boat. The conversation, although it was more like a continuous speech on his part, went something like this:

"It was amazing ... truly amazing.”

“There was virtually no wake.”

“I could do so many things that I cannot do behind our boat.”

“Actually our boat is a tug compared to that boat.”

“The girls would love it.”

And it ended with, “We need a waterski boat.”

I just sat there, dumbfounded, trying to digest what seemed to have transpired in a short two hour boating experience. He was completely pumped up. I smiled, nodded my head, and let him rattle on, certain that this supercharged feeling would pass. We had a ton of things we needed a lot more than a new boat.

But I was wrong. Sooo wrong. His crazy, over-the-top enthusiasm didn’t pass and the next thing I knew we were testing a ski boat in mid October during a rainstorm in Canada. While the affable boat company rep drove the boat, I sat on the floor in a rain soaked hoodie watching my husband ski in only his swim trunks. Although he later described the experience as waterskiing while being shot repeatedly, I could not miss the huge smile on his face. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I knew we had just bought ourselves a new boat.

Then he dropped the next bombshell. It was going to be pink. Our daughters had convinced him, he told me. But despite heated protests on my part and any suggestions of other vibrant colors, he would not be swayed. “We do have three girls. Nobody on our lake has a pink ski boat. It will be great.”

The pink Malibu is eye-catching
"Nobody on our lake has a pink ski boat. It will be great."Courtesy of the Bentley Family

And he was right. For 10 years now we have skied behind that pink boat. My husband has gone from the guy who slept in and recharged at the lake on our summertime vacations, to that guy who gets up super early and monitors the water conditions. Consecutively better and better ski gear has been purchased. He has joined the only waterski club in our city, and heads out there early in the morning or right after work when we are not at the lake. He had hip surgery at 48 years of age, which is considered quite young, so that he could continue to waterski. Now, one of my favorite things is watching my daughters free ski behind the pink boat when the water is perfectly flat. They are so strong and graceful as they cut back and forth, their reflections caught on the mirror-like water.

The Bentley family skiing behind the pink Malibu
Years later, the sisters still love skiing behind their pink Malibu.Courtesy of the Bentley Family

However, what the pink ski boat and the sport of waterskiing has really done for us as a family has been on a much higher level. It has introduced us to countless strangers on the lake who we would never have met but who idled up to say hello and say “Wow, that really is a bright pink boat.” Some of those strangers have become our closest friends. It got our teenagers out of bed super early in the morning to go ski the course with their dad. Sometimes they would be gone for quite a while waiting for the water to calm out, and they would just talk - about anything and everything. Those type of meaningful conversations that don’t happen anywhere else. My husband and my daughters now share a common goal of trying to do better on the course, to strive to achieve a goal they have set for themselves. This is a skill our daughters can apply to all aspects of their lives, and which we are now watching them do off at university.

It taught our kids patience when they watched me try “like a hundred deep water starts” (their words not mine, but likely quite true) to learn to slalom ski at 50 years of age, when I finally got tired of only being able to drive the boat. And somehow even though their bedrooms are still a disaster, it taught our kids to take pride in their possessions as that pink boat sparkles today just like it did the day we first put it in the water.

The Bentley family loves their pink Malibu
Thanks to all the irreplaceable memories, the pink boat is part of the Bentley family for good.Courtesy of the Bentley Family

My husband’s enthusiasm grows every year. Waterskiing makes him goofily happy. He will promote the sport to anyone who will listen. Crazily enough, the last two winters, our ping pong table has been covered in waterski t-shirts he has had made for both our lake ski course and the club he belongs to in Calgary, and which he gives away for free to everyone who loves the sport as much as he does.

There has been a bit of chatter these past few summers about getting a new boat with an even smaller wake, but it is always met with protests. We can’t get rid of the pink boat - who suggested that? I know without a doubt the pink ski boat will never leave our family for the simple reason that it has become a part of our family.