Would you rather talk about your car or your boat?

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If only I had a dime for every time I heard the expression, “Nobody really needs a boat, but you do need a car.” Someone said it to me again just the other day.

Wants and needs clearly are different things, but don’t make the mistake of underestimating the power of emotion. A person with a passion for boats is a force of nature.

Circumstances may cause die-hard boaters to postpone the purchase of a new or used boat, but they won’t go without forever. The faithful rarely swallow the anchor, and if they do it’s not for long.

I can reach just about any CEO or executive type by phone to talk about his or her boat far more easily than I can get them to discuss some aspect of their business. For many folks, boats are one of the things that make long hours at the office more tolerable.

A car? Unless you’re 16 or a collector or you own something really special, it’s basic transportation, with all the sex appeal of a food-group pyramid.

As an industry, we have the raw materials — the ocean, the sky, the fresh air, the incredible sense of freedom, the boat — to make grown men and women spend copious amounts of time and money and psychic energy on their passion. That’s our enduring strength, the one thing that doesn’t go away, in good times or bad.

I just think we sometimes have to do a better job of reminding our tribe why they fell in love with boating in the first place, what makes getting out on the water so special — to rekindle that passion.

In tough times, people can forget the importance of family time and relaxation and getting away from it all for a few hours. For millions of us, nothing does it better than boating. The renewed Grow Boating campaign will go a long way toward achieving that goal.

I close with a remark from a passionate South Florida angler who owns a pair of boats and is always eyeing or at least thinking of his next one. If the comment strikes anyone as a tad sexist, I apologize. Make it gender-neutral, but don’t miss the bigger point.

“I can’t remember all the girls I’ve dated,” the angler said recently, “but I’ve never forgotten a boat I’ve owned.”

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