The silence hurt. It wasn’t the peaceful silence of solitude you’ll find on a pre-dawn Sunday morning walk while most folks in the neighborhood are still in a deep slumber. Nor was it the hypnotic tranquility of hearing nothing but a few waves lap against the hull at night while the moon shines above through an open hatch. No, this was a silence encased in sadness and a deep void.
For more than an hour a family of six sat behind us while having lunch, choosing a table in a dark, airless corner instead of the bright deck overlooking the crystal-clear waters on the leeward side of Long Island, Bahamas. And there they still sat, heads slumped—looking like bored children in church studying their dangling feet—pecking away on their handheld devices. Some looked at web sites, some watched videos, and others appeared to be playing games—all wore headphones. The waitress encouraged them to move into the light of the expansive deck, bordered by a perfectly carved sliver of paradise.
“Come on, enjoy my island,” she suggested in a rather motherly and concerned tone.
“Too bright for our screens,” answered the father flatly before inserting his headphones back into place. Too bright for our screens? They continued with their endeavor for an hour without even a murmur to pass the hot sauce. This family will have no substantive memories of their vacation—and more importantly, their time together.
Life is far too short and fragile to not take every opportunity to make memories, and what better place than on a boat or surrounded by water. These folks missed that opportunity by a mile. On the long ride back to our rental home—while dodging crater-sized potholes—I was reminded of a conversation at a good friend’s funeral a few years ago. A slide show played on a loop behind the full bar (hey, he was Irish) that displayed various snapshots of special times with family and friends. When I remarked how those “were the good ole days,” I was met with a hammer of a response from my friend and current boss Gary De Sanctis. “George, these are the good ole days too!” Ah ha, I got it (and I guess so did Carly Simon.)
Ever since, I’ve possessed a more myopic focus on creating memories and savoring special moments, not wilting away on my tablet during lunch while a place like the Bahamian Out Islands awaits a few hundred feet away as my playground.
For instance, there were a few times in late November when a few coworkers and I put aside what we were doing, grabbed some sandwiches, and headed for the company’s on-loan Cruisers 41 Cantius. We completed a conference call while anchored in a deserted Hamburg Cove, off the Connecticut River, devouring a few turkey sandwiches. There are always plenty of excuses not to take 90 minutes and head out. Yet, ten minutes after an affirmative response we were warming up the engines. That day we were the only boat on the river and it made the rest of my week.
On several occasions last summer we took the entire edit staff out for a short ride, cooked burgers on the aft grill, and even fit in an evening swim. There were no big, complicated plans necessarily, just the realization that the memories out there were far better than those created by staying at the office just a little while longer. Indeed, I’ve found it’s so much easier to say yes then to come up with a book of excuses of why you can’t find a few hours to head out on the water.
Now it’s time to practice what I preach and go find my girlfriend, who went snorkeling with my friend while I spent the morning working. See you on the water.