Messing About In Boats

Living beside a harbor has given me an insight into the boating community’s lifestyle, and I spend many hours watching the “comings and goings” of the nautical crowd. A few years ago, whilst living in the USA, we owned a small ski boat and spent many happy hours with our kids racing around a lake, towing a “tube” or a wakeboard. Our times on Chebacco Lake are one of our happiest family memories.

Being a day boater seems very dissimilar to the lives of those who live onboard for a weekend or a vacation. The size of the boats, the style, and the owners who all differ and provide fascinating "people watching." I’ve seen teenagers sitting on board studiously doing their homework on the last day of the weekend, and various sized dogs, all of whom seem to enjoy the experience… apart from one little dog who, when he braved the leap from vessel to shore, seemed to decide that there was no way he was ever going back onboard. He spent the best part of the afternoon providing his owner with exercise around the harbor, and despite the application of various strategies he avoided capture. He was finally apprehended and, with a look of resignation and a hanging head, reentered the life of a sailor. I couldn’t help but think of the old practice of "press ganging" itinerants in port towns as I watched his dejected face appear behind a porthole.

It seems the size or style of the boat can also reflect the age of the sailor, although I appreciate this is a generalization. The teenagers arrive in tenders or dinghies with music playing, then you have the bronzed, medallion man with the beautiful girlfriend poised on the back of the loudly rumbling speedboat.
Finally the older generation’s comfortable, large home on the waves moors for several days as they relax and explore the locale.

I love to watch this life of living on the water, and marvel at their tidy and well-organized existence, living in an area the size of my bedroom, or in some cases the ground floor of my house! A caravan on water basically, with all the nifty cupboard space and efficient gadgets.

Most of the vessels are Dutch with their flags flying proudly from the stern, some German but occasionally I see someone from further afield, a boat from Jersey, one of the British Channel Islands, and from much further away, Australia! I had planned to go and chat with the Aussies and find out their story but I missed them and then they were gone, presumably on up the Maas towards Germany. One more step on what must be a fascinating story!

Mark Twain, the great American writer once wrote, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." His words obviously continue to inspire many, and I am already planning to hop unseen onboard a small, well appointed boat, a stowaway, prepared to work in the galley or climb the rigging, just for the opportunity of an adventure!


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