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Fear vs. Fun With Your Passengers - #QuickTips

By: Bill Jennings

When fear goes up, fun goes down. Here are a few helpful suggestions for dealing with the "Jennings Rule."


Here is one of the most important things to remember before you take people out in your boat -- and it’s not about regulations or how to drive. Statistically, between 15 and 20 percent of people are somewhat apprehensive when they go boating. Why is this number so high? Perhaps they are a poor swimmer or perhaps they had a bad water experience in their youth. Or perhaps they are just concerned that you will drive outside their comfort zone. It is quite common to have a passenger who is not as comfortable as you assume they are. But that fact alone is not the problem.


The real concern is that if a person has any concerns or is nervous when they go boating, they cannot have fun. It is physically impossible. As the "Jennings Rule" states: “Fear and fun are at opposite ends of a teeter totter. When fear goes up, the fun factor goes down. Conversely, when fun goes up, the fear factor goes down.


Put another way, it is impossible to have fun if you are nervous and it is impossible to be nervous if you are having fun. So before you leave the dock it is a good idea to ensure that nobody onboard is concerned about the boat ride they are about to take.


There are many ways to build confidence with every passenger. One of the easiest is to make a casual and short “announcement” as soon as all passengers are aboard. Tell them you checked the weather and water conditions. Tell them the layout of the boat, including where you keep the life jackets, fire extinguisher, radio and paddles. You could outline the timing and route you plan to take. Finally, ask if there are any questions. Addressing all passengers is preferable to speaking directly with the one that you believe could be uncomfortable. It covers everyone equally. That 18 year old girl in the bikini could be just as nervous as your 70 year old grandmother clutching a life jacket. Just as importantly, group information doesn’t make one person feel like a “Nervous Nellie."


Keep in mind that every passenger’s perspective on boating is a little different. Even the best boat owners can miss the need for passenger reassurance. The next time you take people out on your boat, apply some simple procedures to ensure that all your passengers are comfortable. This will make them happy boaters and your day on the water a great ride for everyone. #quicktips #tips

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