Updated: Oct 3, 2020
What does it mean to have freedom? Pure, unadulterated freedom. The kind of freedom that you can taste, but can’t quite describe. We have all experienced exactly that, a moment where you feel untouched, a time when everything in life takes a back seat and allows us to take a moment and truly embrace what it means to be human.
This moment isn’t cookie-cutter, nor does it have a mold. This moment is unique to the individual and one that only you can experience. It’s safe to say that moments like these are unique, especially when we grow with age. Our lives become filled with work, relationships, and whatever else, allowing us to experience these brief pauses in our busy lives. If you think back, it’s easy to realize what a moment like that may have entailed. It may have been that moment you first got your license or when you disappeared into the backroads in that beat-up truck. For those called to the ocean, it was most likely the first time you climbed behind the helm, retreating from the safe confines of the shore, and running out past the break wall.
Photo courtesy of Mike Fort
It always seems to be a loaded question, what was your first boat? Bringing forward the memories etched into the hull by experiences that were cultivated onboard. Some quite literally “etched”…
"There is nothing - absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
- Kenneth Grahame
For a kid, a boat is a place apart, an independent world ready to be explored. Coming in different shapes, sizes, and styles. The vessel is simply an opportunity to explore the unknown and learn what it means to go about unrestrained. It’s safe to say that all kids are entitled to exploration, roam the outdoors without supervision, and pass judgment on the world around them. A boat is a vessel for that opportunity, a way for such adventures and memories to be made. Those memories that insight curiosity cause us to learn from our mistakes and, on some occasions, have a run-in with danger. The ocean is a great teacher; it provides a level playing field for all that stretch beyond the waves and wading out into the unknown.
The first boat is what starts it all, for some, it’s a classic Boston Whaler, an “unsinkable legend” or maybe a dinghy with a pair of oars dangling from its gunwales. Whatever it was or perhaps still is, just know that there will never be another more influential teacher that just might shape your life or the life of those around you.
Having a boat builds character; work ethic, individuality, persistence, and patience. I suppose a boat is a metaphor for life. It teaches us about the ups and downs. The day you give it all to catch that fish but come home skunked, and to appreciate the times when the seas are glassy and calm. So if you find yourself questioning, “Should I buy that boat?”, do yourself a favor and write the check. Old or young, there is never a better time to mess about in a boat.