Along for the ride in sea of boats


Living in an area surrounded by water, there’s a good chance you or someone in your family owns a boat. There’s nothing quite as soothing as a afternoon ride on a glassy surface as the sun sets on another Lowcountry day. Just puttering along, waving to others as they pass, makes us all feel like we’re lucky just to smell the salt air and hear a dolphin exhale as he gently breaks the surface.

But as attractive as all that sounds, can we all be boaters? I think you either are, or you’re not. Some of it depends on your upbringing. If your parents were boaters, you probably will be, too. The desire to untie a slip knot and push off the dock seems imprinted at an early age. Backing the trailer, launching from a landing ... that’s all stuff that must be part of what one is exposed to along the way.

I don’t mind a boat ride, but I’ve never owned a boat, canoe or even a paddle. Nothing that happens once leaving dry land is second nature, and though I try to help pull this or throw that, it’s very clear I haven’t done much of it.

Owning a boat is serious business. It also seems to carry with it a few serious expenses. The average cost for a boat 26 feet or less is $18,000, according to the National Marine Manufacturers. After that, there are taxes and insurance. Then there is fuel, storage and maintenance. Add to that the life jackets, dock lines and the emergency kit. And don’t forget the latest electronics that allow you to find fish or the nearest marina. Most of that is necessary before the boat is started. If it doesn’t crank, then add a few more bucks to the total for repairs.

Is it true that “b-o-a-t” actually means “break out another thousand”?

There doesn’t appear to be any shortage of boats in this area. Just take a look at any of the marinas as you cross an approaching bridge. The slips are full of old ones, new ones, big ones and small ones. Check out the public landings on any given weekend. If the weather’s right, those ramps are full of folks headed to their secret fishing hole. And they’re all in a hurry to get there.

I actually wish I knew more about being on a boat than I do. I hope you don’t think less of me because of this admission. I know a fair amount about a lot of different things, but what to do on a boat is not one of them.

What I do enjoy is being on somebody else’s boat. Isn’t that ultimately the way to go? I’m willing to buy fuel or bring ice and drinks, but once aboard, I’m along for the ride.

One cynical approach to such activity is that a boat is a hole in the water you pour money into. A few of you with prior experience might be nodding your heads in approval.

Some of us are boaters, some of us are not. I enjoy fishing, throwing a cast net and watching dolphins. But most of my enjoyment of all those things has been done with my feet planted on a dock.

It might all come down to this: As long as I have a friend or two with a boat, I’m good.

Actually, now that I think about it, it might be just as rewarding to have a friend or two with a dock.

Reach Warren Peper @ 937-5577 or