The Gift of Houseboating

February 2022 Live By Brady L. Kay

I’ll be celebrating my birthday this month. For most of us birthdays lack that pure excitement and adrenaline rush the big day once had—back when we could count our age on one hand. But instead of receiving gifts this year for making it around the sun one more time, I’m going to give a gift for my birthday.

There’s something about houseboating that insists, practically and emotionally, that it be done in the company of others. Cruising, especially, is made for couples and families. It’s a shared adventure. It’s all about teamwork and accomplishing something together. In my extremely biased opinion, houseboating together is the ultimate in quality time.

Relationship building is one of five reasons I believe that boating in general is the best possible gift that families can give each other. The gift is not the boat. Rather, the gift is the commitment couples and families make to houseboating and to each other.

When you take up houseboating, you discover you have been adopted by another family, the nautical family. In case you didn’t know, boaters look after each other out there on the water as well as on the docks. We wave to people we don’t know when passing, we rescue people we don’t know in stranded boats, we yuk it up with people we don’t know in adjacent slips.

Another reason I believe houseboating is the perfect gift is that it balances your life. It requires a different set of mental and physical skills. It removes you, mentally and physically, from whatever it is you do in the workaday world. And I’m convinced all that fresh air and exercise turns boaters into the best day nappers and solid night time sleepers in the world.

By the way, research sponsored by the boating industry suggests that boaters are happier and healthier than non-boaters. Almost seven out of 10 say boating has brought their family closer together. And children exposed to boating are healthier, less shy, team players, and more likely to be leaders.

Everybody complains they don’t have enough time. Well, when you’re hooked on it, houseboating motivates you to make time for it. I recently heard about a physician who wanted to go boating but he never had any time off. Desire won. He closed his solo practice and went into practice with other doctors. The deal was they each would take extended time off periodically for boating and other trips and the other physicians would look after the absent doctor’s patients while he was gone. I think they’re all better people because of that decision, especially the boating doctor.

The last and maybe best reason boating is the perfect gift is that houseboating is your magic carpet ride back into the last frontier. It returns you to an environment where the “road” will never be paved and where the natural world prevails. At night, the sounds are of fish jumping or waves lapping, not 18-wheelers whining out there on the Interstate. Communing with nature may be cliché, but it is still uplifting.

If you’re already spending significant time on your houseboat, plan more. If you’re not, talk about it with the people you love and I’ll bet it will be added to your list somewhere near the top.  

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