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Surprisingly Little to Learn
Sailors beware
July 2020

n the seventh of July, the New York Times correctly reported the boat business is booming. Boats are selling at record rates.

The booming boat business is attributed to the pandemic. Sports, summer camp, and vacations have all been cancelled. Boating has started to fill the recreational void.

john rahm
Captain John Rahm
“Quality Boats,” with four locations in Florida, sells power vessels from 18 to 48 ft. They report the best sales in 46 years. 46 years. They are delivering boats all over the east coast. MarineMax, a national boat brokerage company with 64 locations in 32 states, reports that sales are up in all categories. Seventy-five percent of Marine Max’s online inquiries are from first time boat buyers.

New boat production is backlogged as components from overseas are arriving slowly. Buying boats has become like buying a car, meaning you buy what’s on the lot because it’s available.

But, here is where the New York Times article gets really interesting. They reveal, “In comparison to other big-ticket items like planes or even cars, there is surprisingly little to learn when driving a boat.”

Let’s read that again.

Take it in slowly.

“In comparison to other big-ticket items like planes or even cars, there is surprisingly little to learn when driving a boat.”

Yes. This is not a misprint. The words published above are exactly quoted. Sadly, the New York Times has captured the mindset of many new prospective boat owners perfectly. Even worse, this can be the prevailing attitude of first time boat owners when they are in their boat.

Sécurité, Sécurité, the navigable waters in metropolitan areas have become hazardous.

Surprisingly Little To Learn
A new power boat owner? (Laura Turgeon drawing)

But, here in Oriental things are different. This is not us. OK, most of us.

We are a sailing capital with one of the best sailing locations on the planet. Sailors are a skilled subset of the larger boating population. Sailors realize skills are required in order to harness the wind and get from point A to B. Sailors also realize docking a sailboat, sans bow thruster, twin engines and a joy stick, can be the litmus test of one’s proficiency.

Unlike these first time power boaters, sailors do not expect to gain the required know-how from a six hour online course. Sailing also connects individuals to the nature surrounding them. Moving quietly through the water and hearing the wind and waves creates a partnership with the elements.

In contrast, many disconnected power boaters disrespectfully grind their way over the water. With impunity, they fail to appreciate the conditions generated by a stormy mother nature. Without doubt, the best (whatever ‘best’ means to you) power boaters once owned and operated sailboats.

Google “boating accidents” – the collection of accident photos will open your eyes:
(click image for the big accident view)

My intent is to warn you sailors this is happening in the larger boating community. We will soon read about the increase in boating mishaps and possibly see our insurance rates rise.

But in the near term heads up; that big power boat in the harbor may be owned and operated by a novice first-time owner. Keep well clear.

Fair Winds
Captain John Rahm

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Captain's Blog on TownDock.net is all about making your time on the water enjoyable. Captain John Rahm teaches sailing and boat handling at Third Wave Sailing.