To Drive A Boat

My hubby and I have had boats for years…almost 27 years now.  And in all those years, I’ve been perfectly happy to sit in the passenger seat and let him do the driving.

I remember the first time I ventured into the driver’s seat, only within the past several years.  My brother from New York was coming down for a visit.  I wanted to show him the pristine, white-sand beaches and clear emerald waters of the northwest Florida coast.  But alas, my husband was going to be out of town.  If I wanted to take my brother out to the beautiful barrier island we have here, I’d have to move to the driver’s seat…of the boat.

My lesson-in-boat-driving-before-my-brother’s-visit took place on none other than Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest times out on the water.  And, of course, all of our children were on board for the momentous occasion.

“I can’t see!” I cried as I tried to see above the boat’s bow.

The kids snickered.  I stood on my tippy toes.

“There’s a boat!” I shouted.

“Yeah, it’s about a football field away,” commented our oldest son.

“What do I do?”

“Just keep to the right,” said my ever-patient husband.

I kept to the right as we plowed through the passing boat’s wake.

“I don’t like this!”

My kids picked up on that one right away, and started chanting in Dr. Seuss style, “I do not like this, not one bit.  I do not like it on a stick!”

It was a whirlwind of a lesson, but I got through it.  The next weekend, I took my brother and his friend out to the island.  Three-foot waves?  No problem. 

This is what we planned, and by golly, I’m going to do it.

I aimed the 22-foot cabin vessel into the choppy waters, directly into the waves, as my hubby taught me.  Once we got to the serene island, we had the time of our lives, relaxing, and taking in the glorious, sun-salty air and the crystal-white sand crunching beneath our toes.

That was several years ago.  Have I done it again?  Not a chance.  Driving the boat is simply one of those pleasures I’m perfectly happy to leave up to the hubby…while I just enjoy the ride.

Yes, it’s something I can do, but prefer not to do.

Why is that?  Maybe it’s the difference between easily driving a car on a paved road with perfect lines to follow, and the challenge of maneuvering a massive craft I can barely see over, plowing through a moving surface that has no lines.  Nope.  No dotted white line, no double-yellow lines to warn you of the no-passing zone, no shoulder line to help you stay on the “road.”  It’s a whole different ball game out on the water.

I tend to agree with my kids’ assessment of my first boat driving lesson, “I do not like this, not one bit.  I do not like it on a stick!”

Last night I asked my husband for another lesson…in a smaller boat, on the lake.  I was doing fine out in the middle of the lake, till he spotted our neighbors sitting out on their dock.

“Pull up so we can say Hi,” he said.

I pulled up, but stressed out as we neared their dock. 

“Where’s the brake?!”

Water is a totally different surface to ride upon.

Isn’t it so much like life?  We need to roll with it, riding the waves, knowing when to turn to avert danger, how to plow head-on into it at times, and how to slow down and even shift into reverse when we absolutely must.

Sometimes I do not like it, not one bit.  I do not like it on a stick!

At other times, despite my fears and reservations, it’s simply exhilarating!


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