We're all guilty of it - losing sight of why we go boating...
John Matthews’ piece (Here’s Johnny, p30) about the need for more entertaining gadgets to be fitted on motor boats got me thinking about why we do this motorboating thing. He raises some very valid points about going boating to have fun and to get away from the TV and the sofa. But all too often the fun element seems to get left behind somewhere.
We’re all guilty of it – losing sight of why we go boating. By the time we’ve got the car loaded up, got the kids in, got the kids out again so they can go for a pee, got them back in again, and set off, we’re an hour later than we hoped we’d be. Then there is the hold up on the M3/M5/M1 (delete as applicable) that costs us another hour. By the time we get to the boat we’re running late, we’re stressed, and the kids are hungry. But we can’t stop for lunch because we’ve barely got the engines warmed up and the lines sorted out.
By now there’s an almost John Cleese-like obsession about having fun. And the scowling faces and long silences don’t help – do they know how much it’s costing to have this much fun? The fact that they could be playing on the GameBoy and chatting to their friends on their mobiles almost anywhere isn’t the point. We’ve got this boat and we’re damn well going to enjoy it.
And although we are determinedly cheerful throughout the day, by the time we get back to our berth, the family’s abject refusal to enjoy themselves is really getting on our wick. So we scream at them from the helm as they run round with fenders and lines, trying to compensate for our inability to park properly.
Sound familiar? Most of us have done it at some time or another. But as a new season approaches, I’m not going to do it any more. I am making a new-season’s-resolution – to be more understanding and less tyrannical. Because when we do have fun, it’s fantastic fun. George catching his first fish and me cutting my hand to pieces getting it off the hook. Joe grinning like a demented eight-year-old Steve Curtis as he helmed us through mountainous seas off Mahón. Harry shrieking with laughter in the ringo. Their mother smiling from behind her sunglasses, sun-drenched and windswept.
These are the reasons we go boating, and sometimes we lose sight of the simple pleasures associated with it. This season I’m going to try and err more on the side of benevolent patriarch and less on the side of tyrannical despot.