Thursday, December 4, 2008

View from the Marina- Boating: For a Brighter View of Life

Note: I came across this article through a subscription RSS feed. It caught my attention because it speaks of the essence of boating. As sailors we are very familiar with these concepts, but it is easy to become seperated from them during the winter months when it seems like ages until we sail on Lake Michigan. Our latest trend of media negativity further deepens the gap between the world we presently live in and the passion we all share.

This essay is being presented here with the permission of the author Barb Hanson. Thank You Barb for sharing your words with us.

I hope it brightens your day and puts some perspective on things.
Boating: For a Brighter View of Life
By Barb Hansen
November 2008
You know something is not right when you say "Good morning" and the other person dourly answers, "I wish."
Why the negativity, I wonder. Well, if somebody has lost a job or a family member, I get it, but this person hasn't lost his job. He hasn't lost a family member. He has just bought into the malady that is sweeping the nation – gloom and doomitis.
Yes, the news of late has been rather depressing. The business slowdown, the rising cost of living, the loss of jobs… When you do the math it’s not a pretty picture. I don’t think there is any sector of our economy that has not been down except, perhaps, sales of antidepressants and alcoholic beverages.
I was recently reminded of the story of two young boys who were each put into a room where doctors could observe what made them happy. Billy was put in a room full of toys, games and candy while Jimmy was put into a room filled with horse manure. It wasn’t long before Billy had played with all the toys and games and had eaten all the candy. He started crying for more. Meanwhile, Jimmy was playing with the manure, making it into balls and tossing it all around the room. The doctors were astonished. Finally, they asked Billy why he was so happy in this room by himself. He said it was because he knew with that much manure in the room there had to be a pony around there somewhere!
Right now it’s hard to think about anything positive when we are surrounded by so much that is negative. When everything we read is bad news and everything we watch is bad news, it’s easy to just feel bad.
When I tell people that I’m in the yacht charter and yacht school business, the response is often wide-eyed like, "Wow," or "How cool!" And it is, even when I'm dutifully at my desk and computer. But just about every week I try to get on the water on the boat. Even a short ride across the harbor in the sunshine and fresh air is good medicine for me.
I am not a real doctor but I sometimes play one in this column and this is my considered medical advice for our nation’s malaise. Go down to the water's edge and catch some sunshine. And if you really need a stronger dose, then my prescription is to get in a boat and push away from all of that land-based negativity.
Oh, sorry, I just can't, says Mr. Busy. There's no time, says Mrs. Hurry. I have things to do, places to go and people to see. There’s no time left for me.
Stop that.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Take this long weekend of opportunity to find the fair winds and calm seas of your mind amidst an ocean of worries and woes. Get out on the water if you can.
Perhaps a Thanksgiving weekend charter boat cruise? We often get calls from people who want to spend time on the water with family and friends for a special occasion such as an anniversary
or a milestone birthday. There’s something celebratory about boating. Even in a season of doom and gloom, we have much to celebrate.
Marinas, I have observed, are like Billy and Jimmy’s play rooms. Some people need a big expensive yacht to make them happy and some boaters are happy with just a kayak or canoe. It’s not the vessel that determines their happiness; it’s what they experience with it that gives them pleasure.
My husband has always said, "If your head is on right, a tin cup can be a silver chalice. It’s all about how you look at life."
Boating keeps our heads on right and lets us see the brighter side of our awesome world.

Barb Hansen is proprietor of yacht-charterer Southwest Florida Yachts and Florida Sailing & Cruising School in North Fort Myers, Fla. Contact her at, phone 1-800-262-7939 or visit