Never Be The Owner Of The Boat, Always Be The Guest
I had the pleasure of having access to a pontoon boat this past weekend. While I prefer the speed and sex appeal of a sleek, rum runner-esque cigarette boat, the pontoon has qualities that are attractive in a different way.
Pontoons are comparable to the charm of a funny fat guy - he doesn’t have the body of a classic Adonis (i.e. the rum runner), but he still cleans up nicely for himself because he has a personality. That’s what the pontoon has - a personality. It’s here to party, and all of your friends are invited.
I was staying in an Airbnb, and included in the rental for the weekend were the keys to a Cypress Kay somewhere around 20 feet in length. I grew up down the street from a lake, and I always had friends whose parents owned boats. In between runs on the water skis or inflatable tubes I was able to pick up on basic boating skills and seamanship which I wouldn’t otherwise know.
By the time I was headed off to college I had a cursory knowledge of boating and the open water simply from getting invited to go tubing, and it was these jaunts as a wannabe water sportsman which afforded me other opportunities as I began my descent into debauchery on open water on college spring breaks. I became the go-to guy in college and post grad for all things boating.
How and when to drop anchor, undocking and re-docking, types of propulsion, and fuel management. I am by no means claiming to be a master seaman, but I am proficient. It was during this period (when I would have to show people how to tie off, where to drop anchor, etc) that I realized boating is a job more than anything else. While it is incredibly fun to be the driver of the boat, the guy that people look to for direction, it is also a hassle that I would never in a million years willingly sign up for. We’ve all heard that age old adage - “The best days in a boat owners life are the day he buys, and the day he sells his boat”- and I think for the most part that is true.
In all my years as a passenger on boats do you know what I never think about? The fees involved in putting a boat into the water, building a dock for said boat, and storing that sucker during the months when it’s simply not possible to leave it in.
I never worried for a second about what I was going to do with that pontoon last weekend because it was somebody elses problem once my Airbnb rental ended. All I had to do was sit back and enjoy the open water (I couldn’t drive because I didn’t have my boater’s license) while somebody else drove me around and filled up the gas tank.
I helped with docking and anchoring when needed but it was a breeze for the most part, and that is, in of itself, what you want out of a boating experience. Yeah, you’re going to have to help with the onboarding of beverages, life jackets, tubes, various rafts, and anything else you’d need, but at the end of the day you’re not the owner of the thing. You’re free from the shackles of that fucking boat as soon as you get off of it, and that my friend is better than gold. Always the guest, never the owner.
I’ve been known on occasion to dabble in extremely old, super obvious takes and I know that most of you are smart enough to avoid the pitfalls of boat ownership. But it’s hot outside, beers are flowing, there are attractive women in bikinis, and people make reckless decisions with their wallet after a hot ride around a body of water with the wind in their hair. Don’t be a sucker. Just accept the invitation to get on board when you get one and leave it at that.