Share the Love
by Steve Tadd
My folks took my brothers and me on board long before we could say "port" or "starboard." I fondly recall cruising with my parents in Florida and the Bahamas. I remember learning about tying knots and steering toward a cloud or a star over the Atlantic Ocean. I remember being scared when things got a little rough, and reassured at the same time because I had confidence in my dad’s capabilities. I remember the clarity of sounds as I lay in my berth while going to sleep on board our anchored boat. And I remember what I considered at that time to be my first boat.
It was at Indian Cover Marina in Cocoa, Fla., along the Intracoastal Waterway, where my dad handed me my own anchor, a set of oars, and a life jacket and set me free to explore. As a family, we depended upon that eight-foot dinghy to get us to shore wherever we cruised. But for a sunny Florida afternoon when my folks opted not to solicit my help in polishing and scrubbing the family boat, that dinghy was my liberation and pride. For an afternoon, she was my yacht and my chance to see the world. I learned to respect the currents, waves and weather, and to understand sovereignty.
That afternoon, I saw manatees and osprey, islands and buoys, wood and fiberglass - all in a whole new light. I rowed hard as I explored and when I returned to the boat, electrified and profoundly more intelligent than I was when I set to sea, I connected with my parents like never before. They may not have known it at the time (though my hunch is that they did), but that day they opened my eyes to a whole new world on the water.
Since those days, I have shared the exhilaration, serenity and romance of a day on the water with many of my family and friends. I share boating with anyone I can because it is the best thing that I can do. From the accomplishment and exhilaration of water skiing to the adventure and allure of sailing - the harmony of paddling down a river under a canvas of trees in autumn, to the luxury of powerboating through a city river on a summer night - I love sharing the variety of activities on the water with the people I meet.
When I take new boaters out, they will have experienced something very special. And, to some degree, I will have changed their perspective of the world. Without overwhelming them, I urge them to drive the boat - to feel the authority of understanding and controlling a vessel on the water, while at the same time understanding the respect that the water demands.
As I count the people who have gone out boating with me who now own their own boat - and who are sharing their boat with the ones that they love - I feel blessed to have touched people’s lives. When I take someone boating, I am sharing my heritage. Like sharing a great book, taking people boating is exponential. Eventually they catch the bug and get a boat of their own. And then they share their new love with still more people. That’s what I get to do all the time now. As the "Discover Boating Guy," I get to talk to people about my love for boating and help them on course to the enjoyment that I feel with many other boaters.
One of the most frequent questions I get is whether boating is appropriate for children ... My opinion, as you may guess, is that it would be inappropriate not to share with your children the magic of life on a boat. I tell them to use the boat as a tool to teach responsibility and to instill adventure. And when the time is right, let your child take the dinghy for a spin - you both will be better for it. It’s no surprise that a high correlation exists between people’s affinity for boating and their positive boating experiences as a child. It’s no surprise that I now have three boats of my own.
We, as boaters, are a lucky bunch. We understand full well that life is better with a boat. We take pride in the work that we put forth to maintain and care for our boats, just as we would care for a best friend. And if you ever feel that you have neglected your boat - or your best friend for that matter - consider bringing the two of them together ... all three of you will be better for it.