Some of my best memories from my childhood are sunning myself on the bow of my dad’s 34-foot Fairwind sloop, Gitanna, eating peanut butter sandwiches, and reading while sailing around the Pacific Ocean off the Southern California coast. This was how we spent every weekend of my childhood. We were together as a family, without the distraction of TVs or Atari (the video game system of my childhood). Later on, my brother and I got our SCUBA diving licenses, and my uncle would take us over to stay and dive Catalina Island. Sleeping on the boat at night was always so comfortable from the gentle lulling, like being in a primordial womb. Another great thing about vacationing on a boat is being able to try to catch our dinner off the side. I am not at all surprised that 82% of Americans say that being around the water is relaxing (according to a 2015 Discover Boating survey conducted by Wakefield Research).
My dad got his love of all things marine from his grandfather, Grandpa Dick, who took him on small fishing boats on the large lakes of northern Minnesota throughout his childhood. Incidentally, Grandpa Dick had lost a leg in World War 2 but had no problems with boating. They were often accompanied by a native American named Joe, who lived in the woods, paying him for his fishing guide services with baked goods. Although Joe was an uneducated man, he knew everything about boats, fishing spots, and the lakes, which inspired my dad to learn all he could about the sea. Research the best boat for you and your family.
I still love water so much that I always live within half-an-hour of the ocean, and now I get to share my love of it with my sons. My father started my boys sailing on a Sunfish in a lagoon while we were on vacation each when they were eight-years-old. This summer my son, James, started his structured sailing education by attending a local sailing camp with his cousin. He comes home every day sun-kissed and so happy, spending hours telling us about all the things he learned in camp and about his time on the water where he is working with four other boys to pilot a small sailboat. This is a boy who is typically not a huge school guy, and he is learning science and being excited about it, a fantastic unexpected bonus! Find a sailing summer camp for your kids. James said last night that he is having the best days of his life, which is such a beautiful thing for a parent to hear.
When we go on vacation, we often rent a boat. In Newport Beach, California, we had a great time renting a pontoon boat, which was easy to drive, held our whole family, and was perfect for the calm channel between Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island to relax and take in the gorgeous views. For the Fourth of July weekend, we will be heading to a lake in Maine where we can get our row-boat fix and do some fishing. Find a boat to rent near you.
About a year ago, my dad had a life-threatening accident. Now he is healthy again and out on the water. It is such a blessing to have this activity that the family shares that provides us with time together, great stories, and memories. I know long after my dad leaves this earth, it will still bring us together, and we can go out on the ocean, smile, and feel him near, as he still feels his Grandpa Dick.
I love that Discover Boating, a fun Non-Profit that educates the public on how boating can enhance our lives, helped me bring this story to you. For more information about boating and more inspirational stories, visit www.DiscoverBoating.com. To watch a video about family boating, visit here.