For most of us it’s probably safe to guess that quality
family time ranks high on our lists, if not right at the top. Everyone feels he
could use a bigger paycheck and of course good health is always a priority, but
finding those activities that can bring a family closer together is more
important than ever these days.
I have a neighbor who for years seemed to give me a hard
time about my passion for boating. He’s really not a bad guy, but he reminded
me of the brother-in-law in the movie Field
of Dreams that just didn’t get it. The brother-in-law couldn’t see the
baseball players and because of this he didn’t get along with Kevin Costner’s
character. When it came to boating, simply put, my neighbor just didn’t get it.
When he would see me he would try to convince me that boats aren’t worth the
hassle. He’d comment on our short boating seasons and any other negative thing
he could think of just to try to convince me that boating was a waste of my
time and resources. Oh yeah, he was quite the buzz kill to say the least.
At first I’d get sucked into his debates—you know those
little witty jabs at each other where no one ever really wins. Finally it just
got to the point where he thought he was being funny, but I’d avoid him just to
spare the sarcasm. I guess I felt it was pointless to try to convince him
otherwise and I no longer had the strength or energy to argue with the
But this all changed this past summer as I was loading up for
the weekend and I caught my neighbor approaching out of the corner of my eye. I
just gave my wife that look of, “Here we go again,” but this conversation was a
lot different than our past talks. He just kind of looked at me and smiled.
Then he said to my surprise, “I probably could have bought three boats for what
our son has cost us.”
My neighbor’s son had fallen into the wrong crowd and
distanced himself from his family by getting involved in drugs and alcohol. It
had cost this family more than just money as they tried rehab as well as other
programs to help their son overcome his addictions.
I’ve always known what boating can do to bring a family
together, but I had never quite looked at it the same way my neighbor was seeing
it. In his eyes he had made the connection that because we are boaters, we’ve
stayed closer as a family.
Since that day my conversations with my neighbor have become
a lot friendlier and even though he still hasn’t taken me up on my offer to
take him and his family out with us, I know it’s just a matter of time. I’d
like to get him out on our boat some day so he can truly see through his own
eyes the enjoyment that boating has to offer. But even if that day never comes,
I at least know those uncomfortable and awkward moments that we used to share
are behind us and my faith in the boating lifestyle has been renewed because of
Now houseboating won’t guarantee you won’t have family
problems, but it’s hard to argue that time on the water won’t improve family
time for you and really, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Our time is valuable and it’s easy to get caught up in the responsibilities
of our careers, our community and other obligations that tend to rob time from
our families. Often we look at houseboating as a way to keep our family happy,
but this includes you as well. Here is just a small sample of how houseboating
can bring your family together.
Unless your children are great swimmers, chances are good
they’re not going to get too far once you’ve anchored up in a cover. Unlike at
malls or theme parks, your kids can’t just run off. Now, depending on where you
anchor they can still go off and explore and do their own thing, but it’s nice
to know they’re still close by.
As important as it is to do activities that bring everyone
together, it’s also nice to recognize that most houseboats are still big enough
that you can have that important one-on-one time with your spouse or child.
I’ve taken advantage of this while everyone else was taking an afternoon nap to
talk with my oldest child and spend some quality time with her. When you think
about how busy our lives tend to be, it truly is priceless when we’re able to
connect with our children like this.
Mom tends to get stuck inside cooking on some boats, but
it’s her vacation too. But cooking meals doesn’t have to be looked at like a job;
it can lead to that quality time that we’ve been searching for. By taking turns
with the menu and dividing up responsibilities, even younger children can
appreciate the unique opportunity to prepare meals for the others. It’s a
quality time experience that for some reason feels different than when you’re
asked to do it at home.
If not abused, the “mandatory swim” rule can bring life to
any outing. How it works is that at any given time, someone can call out for a
mandatory swim where everyone on board needs to get in the water. You might
have kids watching a movie on the couch, grandpa fishing off the back and your
wife reading a book, but that all changes when the call comes in. Soon everyone
is floating in the water and having fun and you don’t even remember what you
were doing before that seemed so important at the time. Plus, as an added
bonus, no need to shower before dinner. You’re now good to go thanks to the
mandatory swim rule.
Grown Up Time
After the kids have been put to bed, grownups need a little
time to themselves too and this usually means a gathering on the top deck. This
is where family and friends can come together to appreciate the night’s sky or
possibly an evening breeze as adults socialize and relax. If that’s not
vacation time well spent, I’m not sure what is.
We could keep the list of ways to create and enjoy quality
time going on forever, but it’s actually up to you to add to it. Now is the
time to create your own list of the activities that you can do on your
houseboat to help provide the quality time that you’re in search of.
Houseboating is like no other activity in the world and it offers unique family
rewards that you wouldn’t even think possible until you experience it for
yourself. If you’re a houseboater, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re
not a houseboater yet, maybe it’s time you learn. Isn’t it about time that you