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View From The Marina: Benefits Of The Stone Age (BLOG)

So if you agree we have a problem with what I call the head-down syndrome, what can we do? The answer is simple: Go Boating!
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People sometimes get annoyed when there’s fond talk of “the good old days,” but I think there are some things from way back when that should be resurrected.

I think technology is great. Computers and iPhones and iPads enable us to communicate quickly to just about anybody, anywhere on the globe in a heartbeat or less. Sure beats snail mail or having to print material to effectively inform people about what’s new with you or the goods or services you have to offer. I stay in touch with my friends thanks to these advances we have all come to use day in and day out. Our old newsletter had a circulation of about 15,000 and that required a substantial postage fee every time we mailed it out. That’s something we now do via email and it sure is a heckuva lot less costly. But there are some consequences.

The art and science of communicating face-to-face is just about dead and there are some people that will be dead if they keep on texting while rolling along the interstate at 70-plus miles per hour. But getting back to talking to someone while looking him or her in the eye. I like that. It tells me the person I am speaking to is interested in me, the substance of our conversation and is probably telling me the truth. Each of those is important.

Today’s techies always have their heads down texting, tweeting or searching. It almost looks like they are praying and while that’s not a bad thing – to pray that is. All of that head-down time makes them unaware of their surroundings and the things they are missing out on. I’m not just talking about drivers on the interstate, why I’ve seen people crossing the street with their heads down texting or tweeting and almost getting struck by a car or getting themselves hurt in some other way. In addition, they are missing out on what’s happening around them and learning some of life’s lessons. You can’t smell roses if you don’t see them and while I know there’s work on adding aromas to future iPhone generations, that hasn’t happened yet.

So if you agree we have a problem with what I call the head-down syndrome, what can we do? The answer is simple: Go Boating!

Charter a cabin cruiser and get your whole family on board. If you need a captain, we can provide one that will take the helm and teach you how to, but fade away when it’s family time.

Yes, there are rules that must be followed on board and while underway, but they are probably the same as rules for success in life. You might have to add one about turning off the cellphones and iPads, but that’s OK. This is an opportunity to reconnect and learn.

Kids who grow up boating learn that successful boating requires self-sufficiency and personal responsibility. To me, that’s a pathway to becoming responsible and successful adults. Just imagine your family cruising the sheltered Gulf Intracoastal Waterway passing our barrier islands and wild mangrove sanctuaries where herons, egrets, pelicans and ospreys play.

This is a special time when awareness of your surroundings can bring one “Ah Ha” moment after another as dolphins surf your wake, frigate birds fly overhead and rays flutter in the clear seas below. And, you can drop the dinghy and paddle to a beach chocked full of fine, white sand with a collection of wonderful seashells just a stoop or two away.

Sunsets are to die for, but you have to keep your head up and there’s simply nothing like an impromptu “family meeting” on the fly-bridge to look at the stars. Please don’t misunderstand, I appreciate the benefits of the new technology, but let’s not sacrifice good conversation and the chance to learn from our surroundings because we have to comment on someone’s latest Facebook post.

Boating hasn’t changed. It was great back then and it still is today. See for yourself, but keep your head up.

Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts, yacht charters and Florida Sailing & Cruising School, a liveaboard yacht school. Contact her at, or at (239) 257-2788.