The best vehicle for promoting our sport isn’t a video or a blog or a tweet or even a boat sitting in a showroom. It’s a boat ride. And the best ambassador for our sport is you and me.
That’s no secret, but I was reminded once again of the power and magic of a simple boat ride at a late-afternoon gathering on Tuesday along the lower Connecticut River, where Soundings Trade Only is based.
The magazine staff (Trade, Soundings and Power & Motoryacht) got together for burgers and dogs and good fellowship at the riverfront home of editorial director George Sass Jr., complete with a dock and a boat. The rain and dark clouds sailed away to the east by late afternoon. The river was still and empty. The light was lovely. And a bunch of people who aren’t used to getting out on the water got a great look at this wonderful river from George's classic 1968 Boston Whaler.
I arrived at the soirée just as the boat was returning to the dock. The four co-workers who stepped off were all smiles and chatter. Their hair was blown back, their eyes were bright, and the humdrum of the workaday world had vanished. This process was repeated several times.
“Who wants to go for a boat ride?” shouted Gary DeSanctis, the AIM Marine Group publisher. Is there a better call to action? There were plenty of takers (and even a couple of small adventures).
During a brainstorming meeting last week with the editors and publishers of Active Interest Media’s Marine Group we kicked around ways we can help encourage more youth participation in boating. One idea is to communicate through columns, blogs and social media the power of your first boat ride. For some of us, that one special outing under power or sail, paddle or oar was a transformative moment, the pathway that led us to where we are today.
As an industry and as individuals, the more we are able to provide similar opportunities to others, the more we contribute to our long-term growth.
The last run at dusk on Tuesday carried five guys who have all owned boats. We sashayed south through the gloaming, carving the quiet water as the lights in the river houses and along the small muddy lanes flickered on. What continues to amaze me about boats and the water is how invigorating the experience still feels, even after all these years.