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My father had a love of water. It started with an above ground swimming pool in the early 1960’s. There were fishing trips in sixteen-foot row boats. His best friend had a twenty-five foot Chris Craft cabin cruiser boat. Frank and my father would go fishing every weekend. The bug hit my dad to own a boat.
One day, he found a twenty-six foot Trojan cabin cruiser for sale. It was barely used and was deeply discounted. My dad was smitten. He had the challenge of convincing my mom, who was deathly afraid of water, to say yes. They bought the boat.
My dad was so proud of it. Every weekend, Frank and my dad would swap back and forth whose boat they would take to go fishing. Frank got married and his days of fishing with my dad abruptly ended. I became my dad’s first mate.
My dad wanted to teach me how to drive it. He’d put me behind the wheel (don’t think of a car wheel, but a boat wheel with knobs coming off of it) and told me to drive it. I learned to slowly leave the boat slip on idle and not to make any wake in the marina. Once past the no wake zone, he’d have me accelerate it. I’d go halfway with the throttle and felt really proud. He would take the throttle and push it all the way. The bow of the boat came up. I could barely see over it. He stood alongside me to make sure all was well.
He also taught me how to navigate going under bridges. You slowed the boat to idle so there was no wake. You aligned the boat so it was straight and centered under the bridge. Then, under its own speed, you navigated it under the bridge, staying clear from both sides. It was amazing. I was driving this twenty-six-foot cabin cruiser and I wasn’t even a teenager.
A few years later, my mom had enough of the boat and refused to go on it. My dad sold it. We never talked about it again. It was the last boat I drove.
Fast forward, I’m at a boat ramp and run into some members of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. They invited me to take a boater safety course. Life got in the way and I missed the course. The next year, I found the flyer, called the leader, signed up and attended. Both my wife and I passed the course. A few weeks later, I joined the USCG Auxiliary.
Working around COVID, I had a chance to go out with the Auxiliarists on the boat (called a facility) to learn how to become boat crew certified. One time I was allowed to drive the boat.
One individual was a member of the Auxiliary for over thirty years. He was also a certified boat captain. I hired him to teach me how to navigate a boat I rented.
It had been decades (with an “s”) since I piloted a boat. I was grateful for his leadership. Skills, that were rusty, were coming back.
I could have rented a boat and attempted to pilot it myself. Instead, I chose to hire a teacher. It was money well spent.
There are times in our lives when we need to call on someone to come alongside us. They may be a life coach, a counselor, or a friend who can help us navigate the challenges of life. Don’t let your ego keep you from asking for help. You’ll be glad you didn’t.
I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well my friend.