To the uninitiated, a weekend of boating seems like nothing more than a bunch of people out on the water, driving around and pulling people with ropes. If those same people could see what goes on behind the scenes, they might begin to understand that there is bit more to boating than what meets the eye.
Even I am still coming to appreciate everything about boating. At first, it was about being on the water and getting away. Those elements will always be part of the allure, but even that fails to capture everything I take away from boating. There’s still more to it, and the only way I can explain is to tell you a story.
Just this past weekend, I was swapping a cylinder head on an engine. I was able to get it off with no trouble, but I was having trouble installing the new one. I asked my wife for help. She’s plenty strong, but we were having issues lowering the new head into place without marring the head gasket. We tried a couple of times, but my wife only has so much patience for these kinds of things, so I had to take a different tack. (It’s worth noting at this point that I don’t live in the town I grew up in, so buddies weren’t an option.)
I called a friend I met through boating. Even though it was 5:30 Saturday afternoon, he said he’d be right over, and 10 minutes later there he was.
We went to the driveway, picked up the head, and lowered it right into place on the first try. What’s more, he stuck around to help me get the exhaust manifold and riser installed correctly. All of this, mind you, on a moment’s notice. We’ve only known each other about a year, but because of his generosity and willingness to lend a hand, I was able to finish the job the next day. His willingness to help demonstrates how much more there is to boating than just being on the water. Through boating, you will meet the nicest people and share bonds that can be somewhat rare in other areas of life, and it’s what makes a story like this possible.
Once we got the head torqued down, I wanted to thank my friend in some way, so I shook up a batch of my world-famous martinis. We sat on the back patio, sipping gin and swapping stories. If not for boating, we probably never would have met. If not for his help, I don’t know how I would have finished installing the head.
In the process, I got another story to tell. And in my line of work, that’s almost as valuable as having another friend.