Boating resolutions for the new year
Happy New Year!
Traditional New Year’s resolutions - lose weight, stop smoking, be kinder to small animals and the like - have taken a different turn thanks to a national boating organization.
Boat Owners Association of the United States has offered some yachting suggestions that are worth a consideration for waterfolk.
1. Introduce one new friend to boating this year, and with your supervision, volunteer to let them sit behind the wheel for a little bit (You remember that feeling?).
2. Inventory your safety gear and ensure it's in good condition.
3. A resolution from the BoatU.S. Trailering Club: ensure your boat trailer has tires with an "ST" (stronger sidewalls) designation, are inflated properly and are free of sun rot.
4. Take one educational course or on-the-water class to improve your boating. Many are available year-round and listed in The Islander.
5. "Nature deficit" disorder, a combination of over-programmed lifestyles and plugged-in playtime, is conspiring to leave kids no time with nature. Get your kids or grandkids outdoors by taking them boating.
6. A resolution from TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist Captains: have an anchor aboard - it could be your best friend if your boat is disabled. And make sure that you have adequate line.
7. Make boating fun for your spouse and family - give clear direction and don't bark orders or eventually you will be a solo boater.
8. Spend at least one night on the hook in a quiet gunkhole. An overnight adventure with the family away from the dock can give you a new perspective on boating.
9. Try a different kind of boating. If you're a sailor, go powerboating; if you powerboat, go sailing; or, rent or borrow a kayak, canoe or personal watercraft. Changing boating styles is not only fun, but it allows you to appreciate the challenges and pleasures of operating different watercraft.
10. Thank your marina owner for not going condo. Declining waterway access can only be reversed if marina operators and boaters work together to find solutions.
No change planned in boat registration
It looks like it’s status quo for boat registration in Florida.
A boating advisory council of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has voted against making any recommendations to change what vessels should be registered. There was some discussion about having all non-motorized boats plunk down a few bucks to be registered, boats like kayaks and canoes.
In fact, "believe it or not," there was some debate about whether or not inflatable rafts and those water noodles should fall under the state purview, but that discussion was quickly quashed.
However, the council did support "the importance of appropriate boating education for all boater operators regardless of vessel type," according to the FWC, and requested "more detail on mandatory boating education for all boaters." Further discussion is expected to take place on the matter later this year.
By the way, "current boater education laws pertain only to people who operate motorized vessels," the FWC officials said, "those 21 years and younger are required to pass an approved boating safety course to operate a vessel with a 10-horsepower or greater engine."
In a somewhat rare occurrence for me, I took a quick "vacation" to one of our neighboring islands to the south during the holidays to Sanibel and Captiva, although there is no longer a distinction between the two islands since Hurricane Charley’s passage filled in the pass between them with sand. There are still lots of expensive homes amd a mix of funky resorts and nice shops and restaurants to be found there.
These barrier islands off Lee County are unique in that they run east-west, not the usual north-south alignment we’re used to on Anna Maria. The orientation was superb to foster an even greater-than-usual disorientation in my navigation, and getting lost became pretty much a regular event. It’s really weird to watch the sun set in what to me seemed the north.
Sanibel is a bike-friendly city in a big way. In fact, the bike lanes are about as wide as the roadbed, and needed since it seems that everybody is on two wheels rather than four. It’s a nice approach.
Turtle Watch people would love the islands, too, because there seemed to be no street lights. Sure, parking lots were lit, but not the roads. Traveling at night in the real, real dark was something of an adventure for us navigation-challenged folks, to say the least.
All in all, it was a nice place to visit - sans airlines - to get out of town if all you want to do is go to another place that features Island time all the time.
Another travel tale
My longtime buddy Joe Bird and his wife and twin sons took off to the Rocky Mountains for some skiing over the holidays. Joe worked at a former Islander newspaper, and now lives in Jackson, Miss. He offered the following thoughts of his ski trip.
"Colorado is another planet, or the world's biggest beer cooler - I'm still trying to figure that one out," Bird wrote. "The locals are friendly enough and always offered to help me stand up again … go figure.
"Skiing is really a foreign concept. It goes something like this: Hang around a toasty warm fire pit and socialize with athletic, yet earthy women, drink until you are brave (stupid) enough to strap on high-tech plasticy things onto your feet. Also grab these stick/poles that give you the illusion of balance. Now it gets good … you pay an incredible sum of money to sit in a chair that takes you way, way up out of the range of oxygen. This then makes you fall down the mountain, and then, (I'm not making this up), people get back in line to do it all over again. Dang, that’s fun.
"In the evenings you get to sit in a hot tub and thaw out while loosening up muscles that we flat-Islanders never knew we had, or needed. You know, that one that you tense up in your rear end before hitting the ground."
Unfortunately, he did mess up his knee during the trip. All I ended up with over Christmas was a sunburn.
And to wrap up the travel tales, scientists on the other side of the world have taken what they believe to be the first-ever video footage of a giant squid. Japanese researchers baited a hook near a camera and got the film of a relatively small female giant squid as it squirmed around the bait.
The "baby" was only 24 feet long. Mature specimens grow to more than 60 feet.
The Japanese team also believes that there are many, many more of the deep-sea dwellers than had been previously expected.