I’ve been teaching new boaters, or boaters who have moved from small to large, or from a single-engine to twins, how to better and more safely operate their vessels for close to 20 years.
Which is actually close to half of the total time I have spent on this planet messing about in boats.
Close, but not quite half.
I started unofficially teaching when I worked for new boat dealerships, familiarizing new owners with the alien chunk of fiberglass they just plunked down $60,000 to purchase.
Lots of people go into boat ownership thinking, “well, I can drive a car, so…”
Yeah. Nope. Not even close.
Over the last 20 years, I have fine-tuned a process for new boaters to follow that just works. It’s simple, easy to replicate, and easy to remember. Because of that, people tend to click with the “system” quickly and stick with the basic principles for years after I’ve gone on to other things.
One of my favorite things is when my students reach back out to me to tell me how their doing, sometimes even years later or very often I’ll get notes every year after we’re done with class.
I LOVE that. 🙂
But even after 20 years of official classes and countless happy new boaters, I still wonder if I’m really helping people or if all the nuggets of wisdom just vaporize into thin air with an audible “poof” 15 minutes after my feet (reluctantly) hit the dock.
However, today I received a gift. I opened my Inbox to discover pure gold tucked between the auto insurance offers, marriage inquiries for lonely Russian beauties, and communiques from wealthy Nigerian princes.
There, like a beacon in the night, was the following email from a couple I worked with last summer when they bought their first boat – a 36 foot Sea Ray Sundancer.
Read on for a great story even if I wasn’t the one who taught them to drive.
I hope this finds you well and you are ready for the 4th of July. I wanted to share a quick story and more importantly a thank you for your help. Stephanie and I took the boat out on Monday to see the fireworks here in Detroit. The weather was spotty but we were pretty sure we’d be OK. As you might’ve seen right around when the fireworks were about to start a huge storm rolled in quickly and unexpectedly. We got all the way back to the marina but when we were about 50 feet from our slip the storm slammed us. Within minutes it went from calm to monsoon rain and 30 mile an hour winds. We were out with a group of friends and you could tell they were concerned as it was their first time out with us on the boat. As the wind started to blow us away from our slip, Stephanie and I quickly realized how solid your advice was. We were pushed up against the wall and instead of trying to overcompensate and fight the wind we hooked on to the wall, stayed calm and wait it out the rain. Within 10 minutes it pasted and we were easily able to pull the boat into the slip without anyone getting hurt or any damage being done to our boat or any other boats.
After the fact we are able to laugh about it and we were saying to each other how much we appreciated your advice and how much you helped us in that moment. I’m sure you hear this a lot but almost every time we go out we talk about you and the tips and advice you gave us. You’ve helped us become better boaters and I can’t tell you how much we appreciate it.
Thank you again for all your help and have a great rest of your summer.
There it is. Right there.
There is the reason I’ll drive all the way to Detroit, or Bay City, or wherever to spend 4 hours with a couple of people teaching them how to properly, and safely, operate their new baby.
I don’t have much to add other than, even if you just have an inkling that you might need a little help getting more comfortable at the helm, or you want to learn how to better dock your twin-engine boat, or you need to learn more about all the knobs and switches that control the ship’s systems – please, reach out and let me work with you for a half-day.
I guarantee you’ll be very glad you did.
Thank you so much Christian and Stephanie for such a great email. You absolutely made my day.