Thanks to my grandfather, I was fortunate to discover boating and kiss the salt life at a young age. Soon after he and my grandmother sold everything in Buffalo, N.Y., drove South and made a life in Sarasota, Fla., he purchased a boat. Some of my fondest memories of my grandfather are from those perfect Florida days when he’d take the family out into Sarasota Bay to fish.
Discover Boating as an Adult in Everglades National Park
As an adult, I was able to discover boating when working in Yellowstone National Park but really got my feet wet when living and working in Everglades National Park. My then husband and I became boat owners and jumped into a whole new wonderful world when we purchased an 18’ Pathfinder fishing boat. Yes, it’s true the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the days they buy the boat and sell the boat. But, there’s a whole lot of time in between to make memories.
Regular readers know we didn’t work for the National Park Service but for the park management company in charge of visitor services at Flamingo which offered the only resort inside Everglades National Park. My former husband and I were a kick ass team. He was the property’s general manager and I was the sales and marketing manager. It was my mission as his wife and manager to make him successful.
In order to achieve that, I needed to learn what the year-round lifeblood of the resort was. The answer was discover boating and fishing. Everglades National Park offers world-class fishing both in Florida Bay and the brackish waters of the back country. Like a sponge, I learned from our fishing charter captains, members of local fishing clubs, and peers why Flamingo was an angler’s paradise. First-hand, I learned to fish with the goal of catching a Flamingo grand slam in one outing: tarpon, redfish and snook, but to date, I’ve been unsuccessful.
Boating Was My Ticket to Sanity
Living and working on the resort property was intense, especially during the winter and spring when the resort was at capacity. If we were lucky, we had one day off and the best way to escape the craziness of work and find serenity was to hop into the boat and jet up the Buttonwood Canal into Whitewater Bay for some fishing.
But, summers were the best. Although the park is home to 43 species of mosquitoes, getting out on the water was the perfect way to escape them and enjoy an Everglades day. We’d zip through Florida Bay and Whitewater Bay maybe seeing half-a-dozen other souls and were always surrounded by Mother Nature’s wonder. With our boat, we navigated through mangrove-lined waterways most other visitors couldn’t see. We watched dolphins play in our wake, saw osprey dive for dinner and spotted American crocodiles soaking up the sun.
During those times on the water inhaling the salty air we forgot about the daily grind’s stress. Our boat was our ticket to sanity.
My boat-ownership days are over but continue to discover boating, whether it’s a kayak, small fishing boat or large tour boat. Watercraft can quickly and easily transport you to another world both physically and mentally.
How You Can Discover Boating
Looking to get out on the water this summer? Discover Boating can assist with finding the best on-the-water experience. It’s the U.S. recreational boating industry’s nonprofit awareness program offering an unbiased online resource to help get people on the water to experience the fun of boating.
Discover Boating offers a Get on the Water Tool to assist in locating places to get you on the water, whether it’s renting a sports boat or a canoe.
In the market to purchase a boat? The Boat Selector section offers a fun quiz to assist in finding the ideal boat for your lifestyle.
Of course, learn more by visiting the Discover Boating website.
Did you know? *
• There were an estimated 12 million registered boats in the U.S. in 2014.
• Boats are uniquely made in America: 94.9% of powerboats sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S.
• 95% of boats on the water (powerboats, personal watercraft, and sailboats) in the U.S. are small in size at less than 26 feet—boats that can be trailered by a vehicle to local waterways.
• Boating is primarily a middle-class lifestyle as 71.5% of American boat owners have a household income less than $100,000.
*Source: National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) 2014 U.S. Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract”
So tell me, what does your ideal on the water look like? Or, who would you most want to spend a day on a boat with?