Photo by Marilyn Gray

During a brief chat with my grandma the other day, she reminded me that this time of year is often the busiest for local marinas. While the rest of us are trying to figure out if we need a light jacket or hefty coat, the owners of marinas all around the lakes are trying to figure out if it’s time to put boats back in the water or not! They take spring cleaning to a whole new level. Sea level, as a matter of fact.

Boats have always been in the background of my life. My grandparents are sailors – they even lived on a sailboat for a year or two. Admittedly, my mother and I were ready to join them after a ten-day vacation that we all took to Jekyll Island one summer. Homeschooling sounded like a breeze if my sister and I could visit sea turtle hospitals and listen to manatees bumping up against the hull. However, I definitely would have passed on the various chewing noises that occurred throughout the night as giant-monster-somethings ate the barnacles growing on the wood hull.

While that trip had me surrounded by salt water and year-round warmth, I’ll always prefer lake sailing. There’s something fantastic about a nice crisp breeze and swimming opportunities that have absolutely nothing to do with the shark and barracuda stories that my family occasionally reminisces about – “I’ve never seen anyone jump out of the water so fast!”

Now that I think about it, so many of the stories that I hear about came from someone being on a boat. My great aunt and uncle were speed boaters – there’s a sort of terrifying ecstasy that comes right along with the rubber rash of being dragged behind a speed boat on a sporting tube. There’s really no harder way to hit the water than to fall off one of those things.

My cousins chartered boats around the world, one aunt takes cruises as often as she can get on them, another aunt owns kayaks and canoes, and it seems like half of my family grew up on Lake Ontario near Charlotte (pronounced “sha-lot” if you’re local). Half the restaurants in Charlotte have docks and rear entrances for the boaters. Some will even send a waiter right out to your boat! Just floating around at a dock was an entirely acceptable pass-time in the dog days of summer. Marinas could be a hang-out spot just as easily as a park bench. I have this dynamic picture in my head of what life must’ve been like back when my grandfather owned Braddock Bay Marina.

I feel like everyone gets the wrong idea when I start talking about these things, like my family should’ve had an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous or something. But that's far from the case because everyone in a small town is famous, and my family was rich only in luck and health. The reality of the matter is, when you’re surrounded by water and lakes of all sizes, boats just are. These lifestyles are just available. It’s not just the privileged that get to enjoy the natural resources when you live in a place that has a beautiful abundance of water near them.

Halie Solea 2013By Halie Solea

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