In Defense of Simplicity

One of the great things about the technologically advanced age we live in is how much of is has infused the boating world. Electronics of course are a large part of this. We now have helms with a dizzying array of plotters and touch screens that are able to show virtually unlimited data. We’ve got joysticks making it possible to spin the boat in a circle with the flick of a wrist. It certainly doesn’t end at the helm as we’ve come to expect interiors to have flat panel monitors in every cabin. Then there’s the high end choices for galley appliances and entertainment systems. Air conditioning at the helm of an express boat? Yup, we’ve got that too.

If you ask me, I think all this stuff is great. If the bells and whistles attract more people to the water and boating then I’m all for it. But I also think it’s helpful to keep in mind that we don’t necessarily ‘need’ all that stuff to have fun on the water.

The magic of being on the water is delivered by, umm, the water! It really transcends the type of vessel we choose, sail or power. I was reminded of this a few months ago. My wife has had a single place kayak for a couple years, so we finally got around to getting another so we could both go out. Rather than go out on our powerboat, on a hot summer day this August we toted the kayaks down to the Potomac and put in at the Belle Haven Marina and paddled down the river a ways. There was a good breeze blowing to keep the temp at bay under brilliant sunshine. We came to a quiet little estuary and just sat there. And looked around. We lashed the kayaks together so we could pass snacks and ice cold beverages back and forth and just aimlessly drifted about. There were birds, the sound of the water, and the sun was reflecting off the waves like countless diamonds. And it was perfect. No motor, no sail, no TV, no lights, no motorcar. Just us in our little plastic boats floating about, drinking it all in, imprinting the type of memory that lasts a lifetime.

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