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Patriotism & Boating- Celebrating a National Holiday on the Water

Holiday vibes were in full force as we celebrated Canada Day at our marina

As boaters we love an excuse or a justification to gather, to bring together family and friends, to talk about our boats and to share our passion and experience our sport. In the fall of 2021, we were given an opportunity to come together with a half dozen or so other boats form our marina on a quick run from our home port of Marina del Rey to the Port of Orillia. We had a blast and over a couple of days we truly enjoyed the company of some existing and newly forged friendships.

During the winter months of 2022, we were asked to join a larger group form the marina on the same trip, but this time it was for two nights during the Canada Day weekend. I have to admit that it felt different immediately. It felt…. more important, perhaps bigger. The fact that this would be a Canada Day weekend with friends meant there were things to do. At the very least, we needed up our decor game to a next level. Meant 2 Be always flies the Canadian flag on her stern and I refresh the flag every season without fail. But for this trip there needed to be more.

It started with Karen coming home from a shopping trip, huge smile on her face to say that she had found decorations she loved. There were hats of multiple shapes and styles. I immediately snared the sparkly fedora and she claimed the bucket hat. And there were others -- a few spares for any of our friends who may have misplaced or forgotten their own. The biggie to me was a 3’ x 6’ Canadian flag that we could use to up dress Meant to Be. I thought we would be stars of the show.

Was I ever wrong.

We arrived at the Port, fashionably last in our group of course, to find a sold-out marina of over 200 boats, all dressed in Canada Day attire. To say there was a proverbial sea of red shirts would be an understatement – admittedly I had also proudly made sure to wear red for this day. The marina itself was alive with the sounds of chatter, loads of people moving about, mingling with new and existing friends.

But the boats! Oh my goodness the boats were dressed to the nines! Red and white lighting adorned many of them – on the bow, around the stern, even hanging inside. Canada Day lighting features were everywhere. I couldn’t possibly count how many different variations of Canada flags we saw – there were several like ours, plus dozens of pendant flags hanging from an array of locations on all types of boats. Canadian flag chairs, streamers, balloons and so much more. One of my personal favourites, though, was the giant Canada flag we spotted hanging from a scissor lift at a local marina on our way to the Port. My smiles were endless as I beamed with a sense of Canadian pride.

What a great feeling to be a part of all of this. But why? The simplest answer to me is just because we can. The sense of pride that fills your soul in moments like this is worth every penny. That feeling of fellowship that permeates your mind evokes a quick smile and makes a belly laugh even easier. And if all it takes is a little shopping trip, a dash of planning, and a willingness to be slightly different that your every day – then heck ya I’m in.

So is it just Canada Day that enhances our sense of pride? I dare to say you’ll readily find boaters willing to gather on most weekends and just about every holiday. Think about it this way: if you’re lucky enough to be on the water at Easter (I WISH!) then the Easter bunny is a perfect addition.

If your season starts around Victoria Day, then absolutely that’s a great opportunity to celebrate. The May Long weekend is the moment we reconnect with our boating neighbours, we hug, we shake hands, we talk about our boat issues and needs, we chat about summer trip plans, we check in on each others families, and maybe even sneak in the first boat ride. It’s more than just the ‘May 2-4 weekend,' it’s about celebrating the birth of Queen Victoria. Canada declared Victoria Day an official holiday in 1845 (no charge for the history lesson) and boaters have willingly celebrated ever since.

The first Monday in August in Ontario is our Civic Holiday (and August 1st is my Mom’s birthday), and while the true meaning of this one is to honour the first Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, John Graves Simcoe, lots of Ontarians just think of this as an extra day off. Lots of boaters, on the other hand, use this one as a reason to plan trips with other boating families as they explore new waters and towns across the province.

We move next to Labour Day, which is typically the first Monday in September. There are obvious celebrations here from the labour perspective, but there are other things in motion – most notably is the fact that school age kids go back to class after Labour Day. It’s a big weekend for gathering on the water as the hot summer nights begin drawing to a close. Late summer sunsets are some of the very best and catching them with friends while you’re wrapped in a warm blanket with a great glass of your favourite beverage, well, that just makes being Canadian even better.

I’ll wrap it up with Thanksgiving weekend in October which for most boaters signals the end of the boating season. This is another moment to connect with our boating families, to help each other with the unloading process, with the winterizing prep work, and most importantly to gather for a feast -- often a potluck with one or two families providing the turkeys. We recant stories of our summer adventures and begin planning the next seasons activities.

You can call us friendly, or even crazy, but we are proudly patriotic and passionate. We enjoy all the moments that our summers have to offer and we truly love our sport and the moments we can celebrate together. Whatever your reasons, make sure to welcome new boaters to join and take a moment to be thankful for the opportunities we are given. And if you can celebrate on the water, that's even better.

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