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What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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When’s the last time you left your boating comfort zone? I’m talking about pushing yourself a bit beyond where you’ve been before. Perhaps it’s been a while. Maybe you have a good reason. (“We ended up there because I knew we could make it back for that meeting on Monday.”) Or perhaps you have some other excuse for staying close to home. (“That port engine acted up a few weeks ago, and we’re not quite sure we figured out why.”) And of course, that’s all okay. After all, it’s not as if you’re sitting on the couch at home saying that—you’re still out there on the water, and that’s terrific.

Here’s a brief exercise: Think about the boaters you know whom you most admire for their cruising acumen. You may notice a few traits they all share.

Jason Y. Wood

1. They’ve made friends with Mr. Murphy, he of the eponymous law. Think about the power of that rule (“anything that can go wrong will go wrong”) and you may be motivated to take the television remote control firmly in hand for the duration, and feel wise doing it. Meanwhile your boat sits, unused, unloved, and taking on that unmistakable funk that characterizes a vessel that hasn’t seen any action for a long time and may not be ready when called upon.

The fact is that cruising by its very nature involves submitting yourself to any number of variables, ranging in variety and importance from whether you’re going to have that fried-oyster special you love at the restaurant in the next port to whether the fuel you’re taking on is clean or if the weather window is going to hold or should we go for it now?

The boaters we admire don’t get bogged down in the decisions they made that brought them to this point. Instead they look at the situation at hand and start dealing with the variables that lay ahead.  

2. They are often open-minded and easygoing, but with a bit of an edge. They love cruising far and wide because it’s fun and interesting. And when they’re not out there, they usually can be found getting their ducks in a row for the next big adventure. But like many of us, they’d like to use their boat more than they do—even if it seems like they’re always pulling in the fenders and headed somewhere for the rest of the season.

We know that many people would like to go a bit farther than they actually do, but that those boaters are unable to get past the initial stumbling blocks of scheduling and planning. The boaters you admire need to plan—a lot—because the edges of their comfort zone are forever expanding, and the commitment necessary to see beyond grows with each season.

Think about what it would take to push beyond the edge of your comfort zone—you may have some goals come into sharp focus. You know what to do next, whether it’s looking at charts on your iPad and planning a few real cruising legs in the right direction, or calling up the service manager tomorrow before your day gets away from you to check on the status of your punch list. I’m not telling you what to do. But isn’t there a part of you that wants to have a ready answer when a boating buddy asks what your next big adventure is going to be?

3. They use money wisely and understand its power to accomplish things, but mostly after other avenues have been exhausted. The economics of the sport are part of the challenge, and always have been. Doing more with less on a regular basis stretches the value of the cruise. It’s like when my dad sits on a chairlift and calculates the cost per run for a day of skiing (jokingly, of course, but like every joke, it’s the grain of truth that makes it funny).

Now I should be to be clear. Getting outside your comfort zone does not mean ignoring the alarms in your head that have managed to keep you alive for [insert your age here] years. Smart decisions based on good judgment and diligent preparation are a critical part of enjoying boating safely. Use what you know, and set some realistic goals. 

And if you want to share your plans, drop us a line. See you on the water.