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View From The Marina: Adventure Versus Ordeal (BLOG)

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As part of the curriculum at our liveaboard yacht school, we teach our student an old mantra: Attitude is the difference between suffering an ordeal and enjoying an adventure.

When "stuff happens," it's not what the problem is that matters, it’s how you handle it.

As anyone who lives in Florida knows, we get a lot of rain in the summer. We recently had a 5-day spell of rainy weather. I don't mean light rain; I mean frog-strangling, street-flooding rain.

We happened to have a family and their friends, a total of 3 adults and 2 kids from northern Florida chartering one of our large sailboats that week. The dad's attitude is one that we should all try to emulate during challenging times. He always had a smile on his face and a pleasant demeanor to match. You can imagine the pressure from two urchins saying, "Can't we do this now?" Yet, no matter the weather or question of the moment, they were having a good time. As we often say, a bad day on a boat is better than a good day at work any time!

Of course it didn't rain ALL the time. They did have some beautiful days. they sailed, they anchored, they fished, and they sailed some more. They also spent a few nights at some of our local marina resorts enjoying the dockside amenities such as the pool and the bar! Smart Dad!

For some people, it takes very little to make them happy. They could have the time of their lives in a canoe with a cooler. Of course, we have seen the opposite attitude as well.

We once had a yacht in the fleet with four TVs aboard. One of the TV's went down during a charter. You would have thought the charterers on board at the time had been relegated to a dinghy for the rest of their cruise. They complained and threatened retribution if the TV was not repaired or
replaced. After thirty years in the charter business, you could say that we've seen it all.

Boating is exciting and fun, but it is also all about the unknown. You do your best to plan your cruise, check the weather, service the boat and pack everything you might need. However, inevitably something will not go as planned. That's just the way it is.

We have all heard stories of boaters who insist on pushing Mother Nature in order to meet a schedule. They say, this is the only day or week we can go and I don't care if there is a storm out there. Sadly, some do not return.

So, whether your travel plans are on land or sea, maintaining a positive attitude will go a long way toward turning your vacation into an adventure rather than an ordeal, no matter what happens. Come to think of it, we may make that a prerequisite for sailors wanting to attend one of our onboard power or sail classes!

Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts, yacht charters, and Florida Sailing & Cruising School, a liveaboard yacht school. Both are based at Cape Coral, Florida. Barb can be reached at or by phone: 1-800-262-7939.