The Best Gift This Holiday Season

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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 begins with an “A-Ha moment” one of our students -- a single man -- had while taking one of our liveaboard yacht courses all by himself.

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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.” Cruising is all about sharing experiences and making memories that will last a lifetime.

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. 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 another family, the nautical family, has adopted you. Boaters 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.

Boating is the perfect gift because 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 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 reason, 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. Communing with nature may be a cliché but it is still uplifting.

If you’re already boating, plan to do 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!

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