By: Captain Bill Jennings
If you are like most boaters, your boating activity gradually slips into a familiar routine. Once you leave the dock, you travel to a destination on your short list of places to eat. Sometimes you don't stop and simply follow a familiar pattern around your waterway and back to your dock. Over time, these boating habits make boating as much fun as driving your car to work.
Here are a few ideas for you to put the fun back in boating by simply refreshing your boating routines.
1) Take underprivileged kids for a ride:
There are plenty of programs for you to check that help children. Agencies such as child welfare, juvenile justice, social service agencies, boys and girls clubs, 4-H Clubs, YMCA, and scouting organizations, can all provide you with information about children in need in your neighbourhood. A half day on the water with these children will make you feel proud and I guarantee you will want to do it again.
2) Eat in the boat:
Sometimes packing a lunch and dropping anchor in a back channel can be more fun than going to a popular restaurant. Not only is a picnic very relaxing, kids love it and you can save money. Plus the fun of shoreline dining can never be underestimated.
3) Do it alone:
Boating is usually a social sport, but boating alone offers a different perspective and a unique chance to experience quality time solo. You have to be mindful of what you're doing and when, but it can be an incredible experience.
4) Do it at night:
Following the same route at night that you normally follow during the day gives you a totally different experience. Check our my piece on boating at night to be sure you are properly prepared for the outing. It can be as safe as you make it, and as romantic as you want.
5) Vary your cruising speed:
This plan sounds like it is too simple to be effective, but because we are creatures of habit we usually cruise our boat at consistently similar speeds. Try running some of your standard route very slowly. You will be pleasantly surprised at the things you see that had gone unnoticed on previous outings. And Aunt Maude will be happier with the relaxed ride.
6) Do a history trip:
Research historic or significant landmarks in your area and read up on their significance. Run by each area that you have discovered and explain to your passengers the history behind these points of interest. You can turn a day on the water into a history lesson that's both fun and informative.
7) Overnight cruise:
An overnight trip is the best way to get started with longer cruises. It creates is a new challenge in planning what you need to take and where you will stay. If your boat does not have overnight accommodations -- no problem. This is your opportunity to explore some of those B&B's along the way. If you do a couple of overnight trips, you will soon be planning a week on a major canal system.
8) Practice some boating drills:
Think of a boating maneuver that sometimes gives you a problem. It can be docking, navigating wakes, practicing high speed turns to avoid objects, or something else entirely. We have a catalog of helpful tips for maneuvering. Practice the maneuver a few times until it sticks and you feel good doing it. It will make you not only a better boater, but a safer operator as well.
9) Enter a predicted log event:
A predicted log competition involves operating your boat at pre-selected speeds over a course set between various nautical marks and predicting the time each leg will take. Speed is not a factor. The skipper who predicts his times most accurately is the winner. It will help you learn the capabilities of your boat even better, plus it is a fun challenge to try and master.
10) Hit the beach:
If you can access a beach by boat, try visiting one with your group to spend some beach time alongside your boating time. If tides are involved, be sure to beach your boat on an incoming tide, or leave it at water's edge and tie it to shore. Bring the usual "beach day" supplies, and turn an average day into a social event.
11) Tow to a different lake:
A sure way to make your boating more interesting, is to go boating on a different lake. It's easy to do if you have a good trailer and the other lake is not far away.
12) Buy a new boat:
Sure, a new boat will definitely renew your interest in boating, but you don't really have to go that far. Just visit a local dealer and test drive one of his premier boats that is for sale. It will put new life into your boating interest. And it is good to keep in touch with your local dealer. Not to mention, it will get you thinking about what you will need and want from a new boat in the future. It's good to have goals.
13) Enter a charity run:
Charity runs are very popular these days. You ask your friends to sponsor you for a fixed amount of money, (usually just a few dollars), and if you complete the route you collect their donation. The event is really just a group of boats travelling together to predetermined stops, but it is a fun break from the everyday routine not to mention you are doing something good for the community.
14) Enter a poker run:
A poker run may sound challenging, but if your boat is not a total slug you can sign up and rejuvenate your competitive instincts. It is not a race, you are given a sealed card at every stop. At the end of the day, the best hand wins prizes. Boaters with offshore style high-performance boats like to run in events designed for them because it gives them a chance to "air out."
15) Replace a business golf game with a business boat ride:
"Hey guys, it's a little hot for golf this week. I'll pick you up and we'll go for a cruise in my runabout." It works every time and it is especially great if your golf game is terrible like mine. It is also a great way to get more time on the water during the summer if you're constantly griping about not getting out enough.
If your boating is becoming a little "same old," choose any of these ideas to refresh your fun boating. As a matter of fact, why not do all of them?