Country music and kicking back on a boat

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It takes a lot to get my 15-year-old daughter’s attention these days if the topic isn’t horses or country music. I’m certain she has a recessive water gene in there somewhere.

Anyway, I did manage to get her to unplug and focus on her father for a few moments last week when I came home and told her I’d had a conversation with country singer Jake Owen.

“How did you do that!”?

Owen is one of the new faces and voices of Discover Boating, the presenting sponsor for the singer’s national Days of Gold tour. If my daughter’s reaction is any indication, Owen will have little trouble reaching the younger audience our industry so needs to cultivate.

And the thing that makes Owen such a strong magnet for our lifestyle is the fact that he’s been a lifelong water rat. He grew up in a house on a canal in Vero Beach, Fla., with the Indian River as his playground. He owns a Malibu Wakesetter 247 LSV and enjoys wakesurfing, fishing and kicking back on the sandbars with his wife and young daughter.

“It’s just a relaxing time,” Owen told me in a phone interview last week. “That’s what boats are for. It’s a total way to get my mind off things. I’m definitely grateful I have a boat.”

Owen isn’t a spokesman per se for Discover Boating, but is rather one of the “storytellers” for the program’s Stories of Discovery documentary series. Call him what you like — the singer certainly appears to be a great new face for boating and fishing.

Owen told us a charming story about a boyhood Christmas morning where he and his twin brother, Jarrod, unwrapped a series of boxes, one inside the other, that got progressively smaller until they were left holding an ornament of Santa at the wheel of a tiny boat. The 12-year-olds looked at each other, confused, not yet understanding the message.

“My dad said, you don’t get it?” Owen recalled. The boys were sent outside, where they found a 13-foot Boston Whaler with a 40-hp Johnson on the transom tied to the dock. Talk about seventh heaven.

“I learned to do everything on that boat,” Owen said, including fishing, skiing and mixing the oil in the gas. And, he noted, “I learned to be safe out on the water with my friends. My dad was pretty hard-core about that. I always enjoyed the freedom of driving around by myself.”

The boating lifestyle is the backdrop for Owen’s Barefoot Blue Jean Night music video.

He said his family always had boats growing up and that some of his earliest memories are being on his father’s Chris-Craft. “My dad and mom were water people,” said Owen, who is happily carrying on that tradition.

He still likes to fish, even if performing cuts into his time on the water. “I’ll fish with a cane pole,” he said. “I don’t really care. I just like to put a line in the water.”

I asked Owen what kind of boat he might buy next. “I’d like to have a pontoon boat,” he answered. “Just to kick it back even more. Not much maintenance and more space. I think one with a slide would be fun for our little girl.”

Owen says he’s proud to partner with Discover Boating and to help promote a lifestyle he’s been immersed in since childhood.

“I feel I’m a good ambassador of that,” he said, noting that his upbringing on boats “goes hand in hand with what Discover Boating is all about.”

Now, if I can only get my daughter backstage, maybe she’ll help with the varnishing this spring …

Click here for the complete Q&A with Owen.

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