Friday, July 17, 2009

Around the world at 17

I can sail 100 yards from shore and feel isolated after only a couple of hours, so I cannot begin to imagine what Zac Sunderland felt like two days, six weeks, or eight months into his solo sail around the world - a 13 month journey that ended successfully yesterday when Zac arrived in his home port of Marina del Rey, California.

While Zac isn't the first person to solo circumnavigate the globe, he is the youngest on record; in fact, he's the first under 18 to sail around the world alone. Congrats, Zac - you did it!

An amazing journey has come to an end, but you can read all the details at Zac's website where he shared blog posts along every step of the way, and view videos like this shot from his yacht Intrepid.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Is boating really a luxury?

An article in today's Chicago Tribune suggests waters are rough for boaters due to the economy. But is it really that bad for those who are fortunate enough to enjoy the boating lifestyle?

Sure, new boat sales are down this year, but that doesn't mean people aren't boating at all - they just aren't buying brand new boats. Guess what - people aren't buying new homes or cars either. Yes, boating is considered a "luxury good" but it's not easily abandoned.

First of all, boating is often enjoyed by people who can afford to withstand a dip in the economy - even as severe as our current recession. In fact, any shake out of boaters for economic reasons may have already occurred last year - those who survived $4 (or even higher at the marina) gallons of fuel in 2008 are surely able to continue their leisure indulgences this year with gas prices lower on the water and on the road.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, boating isn't a sport or hobby one "picks up" like racquetball or softball (no offense to you hardcore ballers). It's more than that - boating is in your veins, a passion often passed down for generations.

You know it if you are a born boater.
  • You've heard the call of the ocean as long as you can remember.

  • You breathe better when you smell salt in the air

  • You sleep better when waves are gently rocking you.

  • The Tribune article does provide one statistic that shows boating may be slowing. The article states that at one harbor in the Chicago area, "...someone who joined a 25-year wait list to moor a small powerboat will now discover the wait time has dropped closer to 20 years".

    Yeah, I guess boating is really slowing down!

    Saturday, July 04, 2009

    Happy 4th of July Weekend

    Have a fun Independence Day weekend!

    But if you're boating this weekend, be safe.

    Drinking and boating can be as or more dangerous than drinking and driving. Alan Sorum, a past Port Director and Harbormaster in Alaska and author of the popular Boating & Sailing site on Suite101, warns that "the vibration, noise, glare, and motion of boating" can intensify the effect of alcohol you are consuming. And the Star Tribune of Wyoming reports that "a boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a driver on land, drink for drink."

    Newspapers and websites across the US have been reporting that Coast Guard units are cracking down on boating and drinking this weekend and throughout the summer with a federal initiative called Operation Dry Water. In fact, in many states "the laws regarding alcohol for the water are identical to those for the road, as far as the operator is concerned," according to an article on

    So boat smart, safe and have fun!

    Wednesday, July 01, 2009

    Happy National Boating Day

    It's official, sort of. Today (July 1) has been declared National Boating Day in the United States after resolutions were passed by both the Senate and the House last month.

    But can we really call it, officially, National Boating Day? I'm no political scientist, but when the bill was first introduced, it was reported by Boating-Industry Magazine that President Obama would have to "issue a national proclamation in observance of the day" after the bill passed through the house and senate.

    As of 11:45 pm on the evening before National Boating Day, President Obama has not done so, leaving the day as sort of an unofficial boating holiday - not much different from any other weekday in the summer.

    By some accounts, July 4th is the real national boating day. In fact, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) calls the 4th of July recreational boating's busiest traffic day of the year.

    What's your official boating day? What one day do you make an extra effort to be out on the water? Is it the 4th of July, Memorial Day, or is it simply any day you can get away?

    Maybe in the future, July 1 will be that day. Maybe boaters will make plans months in advance, take July 1st off from work, and hope for sunshine on National Boating Day - the day they MUST get out on the water. But not this year. This year, I'm afraid it's just another Wednesday.