5 Reasons for Boaters to be Thankful this Thanksgiving
’Tis the season for thinking about all of the things that make us feel thankful. While it’s best to practice an attitude of gratitude year-round, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, boaters should take a moment to reflect on how especially thankful they are for being able to enjoy boating in all its many forms.
More than ever this year with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are of course all most thankful for the continued health and well-being of our family and friends. But for those who are lucky enough to be healthy and to own a boat (or even those who have taken advantage of boat clubs or boat rentals), well, the reasons to feel thankful are more bountiful this year than most people ever imagined possible.
Here's a few reasons to give extra thanks this Thanksgiving (in no particular order).
1. A Renewed Love for Boating & the Outdoors
Quite a lot of Americans figured out the reasons to love boating during the pandemic, as boat sales skyrocketed in ways that that builders and dealers haven’t seen since, well, pretty much ever.
Between April and May 2020, when the first major COVID-19 lockdowns happened in the Northeast, sales of new boats jumped more than 59 percent, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. And boat sales kept happening at a record pace for months on end, so much so that by July and August, everyone from USA Today to The New York Times was reporting on America’s new love affair with boats.
2. Boating is the Perfect Social Distancing Activity
To be sure, quite a lot of people felt thankful to be able to get out on the water. Boating is, by definition, a socially distanced activity that takes place outside in the fresh air.
Whether it’s cruising with the wind in your hair or sitting at anchor in a harbor with plenty of room for the boat to swing with the current, boats create a safe space for immediate family members to relax and have fun away from the virus.
3. Fun, Sun and Family Bonding
Typically in a fast-paced world, it’s hard to find time for family and that’s where boats shine. Whether it’s taking kids out fishing, cruising the islands with your partner or hosting your parents for a sundowner cruise, boats give us a reason to come (and stay) together. Passing down a passion for boating is also immensely satisfying.
And what fun there is to be had on a boat (see 10 Fun Things to Do on a Boat)! Once a family is out on the water for the day, activities can include everything from wakeboarding to fishing to snorkeling to heading ashore for a picnic lunch on a deserted beach. Kids can hop in the kayaks and paddle around until they’re ready for a nap. Mom can relax at the bow with a tasty beverage from the onboard wine chiller.
Additional features such as removable Bimini tops and tables that convert to sunpads mean families can spend all day on the boat, moving in and out of the shade, noshing and sunbathing, and forgetting that the rest of the world even exists.
4. Versatile Boats
Boats have become multi-mission vehicles as boaters ask them to do double and triple duty. Today, you can waterski behind a pontoon boat, sail a souped-up kayak, fish from a day cruiser or entertain with an outdoor galley on a center console fishing boat. There are no more hard rules for what a boat model is for so whatever the activity of the moment, boats can morph into the perfect platform.
Larger boats, of course, also allow for getaways that last for a few days, a full week or even longer. Having a way to experience a change of scenery during the pandemic—a way to get away from everyone working, schooling and constantly being in the house together—is a blessing worthy of giving thanks, for sure. Boats make that getaway experience possible. In fact, with enough provisions and a good Wi-Fi system on board, there’s really no reason to head back to the marina until the whole family has totally decompressed and feels normal again.
5. Boating is Good for the Mind, Body & Soul
Relaxing aboard with the feel of the sun on your skin, having uninterrupted time to read, taking time to teach your dog how to SUP with you, or meditating while waiting for the fish to bite, are all reasons we boat. Boating gives us a chance to recharge our personal batteries and ignite our "blue mind"—learn more by reading The Science is Clear: Boating is Good for Your Health & Mind.
People who loved boating before the pandemic knew that being on the water offered a respite, a hiatus, a sense of freedom from the everyday grind. That’s exactly what most people need now, more than ever.
What Are You Thankful For?
Thank goodness we have boats and boating to provide such a wonderful option of escape, both now and during whatever the pandemic and recession might send our way next.
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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 19, 2019, and updated on Nov. 18, 2020.