Boat Launch Blues – Bully or Ambassador?

Over the years, how many times have you seen a person struggle to launch or retrieve their boat at the local boat launch? How many videos have you seen of people having major mishaps at the launch? Did you laugh at them or maybe cuss at them because they were holding you up? Or did you offer a genuine helping hand?

It is common for experienced boaters to have limited compassion for other boaters who are inexperienced at the boat launch. Rather than being a good citizen, a teacher, a leader or a friendly fellow boater, many choose to operate on the opposite side of the spectrum choosing to be negative, impatient, unhelpful, or just plain rude. Why is this? Can’t we all just get along?

If a boater is broken down on the water and adrift, fellow boaters when flagged down often come to the rescue of the boater in distress without a 2nd thought as many believe in “boating karma” and do not want to experience bad karma down the road if they do not assist the boater in need. Why can’t this be the same thought process for experienced boaters at the boat launch? 

Just like motorcycle enthusiasts, members of running clubs, rowing clubs, rock climbers, hikers, musicians, gamers or fans cheering for the home team – All of the people inclusive of these groups all have a feeling of belonging; a sense of community. Members of a community usually are motivated to help other fellow members when in need – especially when they are experiencing challenges, unforeseen circumstances or just plain old difficulty. Why can’t this be the same at the boat launch?

Breaking out of these negative habits can be difficult for some but not the majority. The majority of boaters come across as happy, kind and considerate – at least we would like to believe this is the case.

If you do find yourself wanting to break out of this paradigm and provide assistance to the captain in need, try to identify the right time to engage. Looking back on my experiences at the launch trying to assist people, I have found that it is better to offer assistance before the boater is right in the middle of trying to complete the daunting task. Whether they are trying to retrieve the boat back onto the trailer or simply launch the boat in a safe manner, I have found that being proactive with your ambition to assist is better than trying to offer help right in the midst of their struggle. Could this be related to the person’s confidence being shattered in front of the onlookers? Could the reason be that the person has been successful with the task in the past and they are just having a bad day? Or could this be that they do not want to be embarrassed in front of their own boat crew? Whatever the case may be, if you are trying to offer help, read the boater’s body language beforehand. Listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it. Do they come across as someone who is open to help? Are they approachable or are they a ticking time bomb waiting to blow up in your face? Use your best judgement when going out of your way to offer assistance.

When a person teaches another person how to accomplish something positive, it is a win for both teams. The student gains confidence, knowledge and understanding by learning a new skill set whilst the teacher gains a feeling of accomplishment, fulfilment, happiness and the opportunity to share one of the best parts of themselves as a human being – compassion. Maybe, just maybe by offering a helping hand to a fellow boater at the boat launch, you might just save that extra time so you can spend it merging into the long line of weekend traffic.

Next time you are seeing someone struggle at the boat launch, who will you choose to be? A boat launch bully or a boating ambassador?

Article by: 

Joshua Tisch

DDM Group