It has been years, perhaps even decades, since I have thought about my first-ever boating experience as a kid. The only reason I am thinking of it now is because my introduction to boating, inauspicious as it was, is a logical place to begin my introductory blog as the new content director for Boating Industry.
One of my dad’s jobs when I was growing up was working in ad sales for an industrial news magazine in the Midwest. In exchange for an ad campaign, a resort in northern Minnesota offered the magazine staff a vacation package, and our family got to use it.
The package included “speedboat rentals,” so one sunny afternoon, soon after our arrival, mom and dad and three kids pulled away from the dock on a rather large lake, with lots of excitement and enthusiasm, and absolutely zero powerboating experience between the five of us.
My dad has a fairly high mechanical acumen, and is a good automobile driver, but neither of those things translate to an understanding of water navigation markers. And as (bad) luck would have it, we cruised right over a marked – but none-the-less submerged – sandbar in the wrong spot.
It could have been nasty, and we are fortunate the sandbar didn’t immediately bring the boat and its occupants of various sizes and ages to a sudden stop. It did, however, break the shearpin on our outboard motor, immediately ending the rotation of the prop – and our boating excursion.
By no means did that initial experience have a negative impact on me. Quite the contrary. It spawned an interest in boating that would literally last a lifetime.
My parents later got a divorce (no, the sandbar was not the reason), and my mom’s second husband had a succession of Larson and Sea Ray runabouts that served as a slightly more solid gateway to years’ worth of water skiing and tubing (with real inner tubes) and recreating on the water.
I skied and boated all through high school and my 20’s, and then my wife and I purchased a 22-foot inboard ski boat when our two kids just entered elementary school.
Since my wife will probably read this post, I should probably be more accurate in my recounting. The truth is I purchased the boat…without even telling her actually. She found out only when she saw the paperwork lying on the kitchen table, where I had carelessly left it. Of course, she would have eventually seen the boat when I brought it home and deposited it in the driveway, but I would have liked to tell her about it in a slightly more tactful and forthcoming manner.
To me, boating is absolutely the best family leisure activity there is, and many of our best memories involve boating and watersports. After all, name another activity where you can get teenagers – and their friends – to willingly hang out in close proximity to their parents for an afternoon, and actually enjoy it!
I have always been so enthusiastic about boating my wife long joked I should sell boats for a living, and I was given the opportunity to do just that at one of the largest towboat dealers in the world.
After a career spent mostly in the media as a TV news reporter and anchor, and later in various agency, corporate and public relations consulting roles, a casual conversation in the parking lot with the owner of the dealership where we have serviced and maintained our boats for nearly two decades, turned into a sales and marketing job offer.
Knowing a lot about boats is quite different from spouting off the top of your head the features, length, beam, weight, ballast, and dash, audio and engine options for 18 different models of boats from a trio of manufacturers.
My first boat show was a bit of a blur, but customers seemed to like and trust me, and responded well to my genuine passion for boating and watersports. I am proud to say in my first-year ever on the sales floor, actually my first time ever selling anything besides myself, I turned two million dollars’ worth of glass into cash.
At the time I took the job, I figured it would be a bit of an outlier, and not really have a whole lot to do with anything l did before – or after. Fortunately, I was wrong about that.
I was able to combine my love of the media (magazines in particular) and storytelling, with my passion for boating, in this combo platter of an editorial and content position at Boating Industry and EPG Media.
The fact that I come to it – and to you – directly from the sales floor of a marine dealer, and with a new perspective on those dealers, as well as marinas, manufacturers and vendors, makes it that much better.
Lastly, on the subject of making it better, I want to give a big shout-out to Adam Quandt, managing editor of Boating Industry. He has endeavored to make the magazine better since his arrival, and has been meeting deadlines and putting out the magazine with limited editorial help these past months.
I look forward to working with him, and meeting many of you, as we create the content you want and need in ever-evolving formats and platforms.
So thanks dad, for your well-intentioned boating debut, and thank you, our readers and subscribers, for being a part of our community.