Five Factors Relevant to the Project

Here’s a bit more about whys and wherefores of the idea I have, which, if you’re just joining, is to get our daughter on a boat beginning at a young age and, by spending time together on the water, to help give her the tools to succeed throughout her life. I always like a good list to get information out there quickly, don’t you?

  1. A hard look at myself: To be frank I’m not one of these touchy-feely guys when it comes to kids. If you ask anyone they’ll probably tell you, I didn’t like them until I had my own. Girls especially. I didn’t get it, at all. I would meet these doting fathers and say, “Hey that’s great. She’s cute. Did you see my Land Rover?”
  1. All that changed when our daughter was born. She’s the apple of my eye, but it’s because she’s spunky and funny and smart all at once.
  1. I make no bones that this will be an easy boat to learn on—more on that later. I know what I’m up against there, and not just for her. But it’s just like when you first drove a stick shift. No one can tell you how, there’s just too much to it, all happening at once. You must experience it. Get in the driver’s seat. So much in life is like that, no? Try to cast a flyrod once and you’ll know what I mean.
  1. Girls vs. Boys. This is not about that, except where it is. I always noticed that many behavior patterns (aggressiveness is rewarded in boys and frowned upon for girls, but often so is confidence. It’s a real problem and I would say many of society’s problems spring directly from it. I noticed it mostly because my wife pointed it out: In school my daughter gets upset when another girl does better than she in class. When a boy does better, it’s not a big deal. So it would seem that she’s trying to be the best girl in class, rather than the best. Where’d that come from? Well I’ll tell you—it comes from everywhere. I just changed it, but when I started writing this part I titled it “Boys vs. Girls” because that’s the natural order of that phrase.
  1. Why boats? Well as I explained, I’ve worked as an editor for marine magazines for my entire career. And I’ve seen what the water can do for people’s outlook on things. I need that. My family needs it. And my daughter is young enough that she can benefit from it in ways on which I’ll continue to elaborate.
Five Factors Relevant to the Project

What Are Boats Good For?

I want to be sure to share some details of my motivation for wanting to get this boat. Here are some of the ways I’m thinking about it.

First of all, it’s a boat. I make no bones about that: It’s pretty much the pinnacle luxury item (That’s if you define luxury as something that is perfectly unnecessary. No one really needs to have a recreational boat. I’m not a lobsterman, or a shipping magnate, or even an island dweller needing to get off the island.) Even as an editor for a boating magazine I will not say I need to have one. Plenty of us do, and plenty don’t. But it’s okay to want one. That’s what I’m doing. I’ve wanted a boat for a long, long time. And fulfillment of such desires feels good. I like the idea of having it and having access to what it provides, which is a respite, and an escape.

The second reason I want a boat, as I’ve mentioned a bit already, is intertwined with my family. I want to fulfill a promise to my wife and daughter by improving their lives along with mine.

There’s a book by Ernest Hemingway to which I keep coming back. It’s called Islands in the Stream. You probably know it. And if you don’t you should. Here’s a gross oversimplification of one part of it. In the story the lead character is a fine artist, a painter named Thomas Hudson. He has three sons who visit him on Bimini for the summer. The middle son, Davy, hooks a huge swordfish one day. He fights the fish in the hot sun all day and his older brother is worried about him. Hudson tells the son (I paraphrase): If Davy catches this fish, he’ll have something inside him for all his life and it will make everything else easier.

I think I know what he’s talking about, and it’s what I hope to give my young daughter in a very real way with the boat. Many boaters know this secret, and they try to share it with friends, but it doesn’t always get across—the divide is too great. The secret is that the boat is the key to breaking out of the day-to-day, living and breathing—finding a life to live on your terms, in many ways. Boats take effort, but in a good way. There are other ways to do this and I expect that folks in the Rocky Mountains and elsewhere have other ways of forming these bonds and building a well of inner strength. I intend to use the boat to give my daughter a foundation of confidence and an understanding of her own abilities.

I know it won’t be easy. But has anything ever sounded so worthwhile? Not to me.

What Are Boats Good For?

Tuning In to What Matters

I try to read the papers; I watch the news. Though not as much as I used to, Since I found it was affecting my mood. Better to walk on the oblivious side of the line every now and again (and be a little surprised when a coworker says something like “That was something about that pilot, huh?”) than to read the full story and spend an hour in the car alone driving my commute on the highway imagining what the last moments on the plane were like.

The world has become a different place than I thought it ever would—whether it’s my perception or reality (and I suspect it’s a bit of both). How each of us find our place in it is down to us. What you bring to it is as important as what you’re faced with.

I’ve seen this recently as my folks have gotten older. I see the erosion at the edges, sometimes little areas wearing down like the changing shape of a beach, other times I go looking for things in distant conversation on the phone and they aren’t there anymore. I need to get home more just to keep pace with the changes.

And where do I look to see what our future holds? It’s living right there in the house where I grew up, in many ways. And it’s not far off. I must be getting into that “midlife” everyone talks about. As the Spinal Tap character David St. Hubbins (played by Michael McKean) said as he looked at the Elvis’s grave: “Too much, too much f**king perspective.”

But there’s another kind of future, a really interesting and special one—sometimes funnier than Spinal Tap—living in my house with my wife and me. That’s my daughter, and she’s tremendous. She looks at the world with wide-eyed wonder and uses her own six years of perspective to understand and interpret what she sees. It goes without saying and grossly understates the point, but my wife and I love her a great deal.

And that’s what irks me when I tune into the news and really pay attention. I see the world’s challenges: environmental, political, economic, religious. People can’t get along with each other, and even worse, don’t have any interest in trying. Colleges try to protect their students from rape and from drinking themselves to death. Terrorists kill people over cartoons. And so it’s very occasional that I hear a very small voice in the back of my head asking: “How could we have brought her into this world?” Pain and fear for any parent, right there.

This is the other side of the coin about getting a boat. I want it for my daughter’s future as well as for our present. There’s something about boating, a wide and ever-growing base of knowledge that combines with experiences to create something inside her that she will carry with her throughout her life. Something that creates confidence, and a fuller understanding of what her capabilities are, and yes, her limitations, too. Something to help carry her through, when I’m there and when I’m not around.

Tuning In to What Matters