For those truly passionate about boating, you can probably recall your first “ah ha” memory when you fell in love with the boating lifestyle for the first time. If you live to spend your hard-earned free time on the water, your life is most likely filled with plenty of memories of those times when everything came together perfectly and reassured you that this life was meant for you.
I consider myself a lifelong boater and would hope that if my grandfather hadn’t given me a taste of boating when I was young, I still would have found my path to the water some other way. Lucky for me Grandpa Kay hooked me early on boating as well as fishing, but unfortunately he died early when I was just a kid and he never got a chance to see that his own love of the water eventually led to my career centered on boating.
Despite growing up around boats, my first significant “ah ha” boating memory didn’t come along until I was a young adult, just after college. Until this point boating was something I enjoyed, but it hadn’t become my passion quite yet. On this particular weekend it truly clicked for the first time that boating simply offers a unique lifestyle that can’t possibly be duplicated and I knew right then that it was something I wanted to always be a part of.
I remember the night like it was yesterday. We had rented a movie from Blockbuster, Google it if you’re too young to recall life before Netflix, and we went on board my friend’s boat to watch while moored at the marina. Before the movie we had cooked up dinner and I recall the food being especially good that night. There is just something about grilling on the back deck of a boat that makes meals taste even better.
The air conditioning was cranked up and it was cold inside the boat, which anyone who has spent a hot and humid Midwest summer night can appreciate. It was a weekend so the dock was extra lively and full of energy. People were dancing on the main dock to a local band and when I opened the door and stepped to the stern for a break during the movie, I could hear in the distance the sound of bags thumping wooden boards as an impromptu game of cornhole had just started up.
It was seriously one of those nights that just felt perfect. I remember walking back to my boat after midnight and just starring up at the star-filled sky and thinking this is what retirement life must feel like. I went to sleep fast that night to the sounds of the marina off in the distance combined with the tune of water gently hitting the hull. My last view I saw before closing my eyes was the reflections of the party lights on the smooth water. It felt magical as the band finished up its last song before calling it a night.
I play back this memory in my mind often, especially during our cold winters or even just those days when I can’t get to the water as often as I would like. These days when I am boating with my wife and kids I’m still in search of my next “ah ha” boating memory. However my biggest priority as I get older is helping my family experience their own moment in hope that my kids will discover for themselves how great boating really is and want it to be apart of their own lives. As we move into 2021, now might be the best time to check your priorities and start hunting for your own “ah ha” memory or possibly helping someone you know find theirs