Owning a Boat: the Best of Days

photo of a sailboatThey say that the two best days a boat owner will ever know are the day he or she buys a boat…and the day it gets sold. For visitors to BoatTrader.com, there’s plenty of that buying and selling stuff going on here, so you may know a lot more about this than I do.

The reason I don’t know if the old saying is true is because, so far, more than a half century into my boating career, I have rarely done any selling. I just keep acquiring boats. At last count, I owned a share of two sailboats, a leaky rowing dinghy, two kayaks, and a Windsurfer. For me, the best day is always the day I launch one of the boats, and the second-best day is when I put it away for the season.

When one of our sailboats gets its antifouling paint wet and its mast put in place for the first time, I’m greeted by crisp spring winds. In the air is the promise of a season of adjusting my sails to the changing breezes of both local thermals and continental weather systems.

Nothing beats that first day. I’ve had a project list for months, and of course I haven’t checked off every item. Far from it. But the boat is afloat, and unlike the other lists that rule our lives, the boat list now seems manageable—and some items lose importance. Now that my boat is afloat, at least when I’m aboard it, the world begins at the bow and ends at the stern, and I’m on my way to a season of relaxed sailing with friends and family, punctuated by intense races with a skilled crewed.

My second favorite day comes at the end of the season. The air has the bittersweet taste of fall and that melancholy sense that our time on the water is ending way too fast. But there’s a chill in the wind, too, which makes me happy to park the sailboat on its trailer at last, or to hose out the kayak and turn it over for the winter. Then, when the gales of November come through, I will worry about how the furnace needs cleaning or the new insulation didn’t get installed; but I will know the boats are tucked away safely until my favorite day comes again.


  1. Mark Perry says:

    Great post, this sums it up for me, too!

  2. Great Post!

    • John Burnham says:

      Mark and Phillip: What are the last boats you’ve bought and sold? And which day was sweeter, the first or the last? John

  3. Carrie Johnson says:

    I agree and only on the buying side of boats at this point.
    The first day is definitely the sweetest for my crew. My first boat was a new Mastercraft X-Star, so when I have to look at the boat sitting and still make the monthly payments… it hurts a bit. It is all worth it and all pain forgotten the second we put it back on the water in Spring. We try to get the boat on the water in April. It is a little chilly for wakeboarding, but it has never stopped us from jumping in for the first ride of the season. After a few minutes your body goes a bit numb to the feeling and you rely on your adrenaline to keep you warm. The last days are usually in early Nov. When we are finally forced to winterize the boat it is a very sad day.

  4. Mark says:

    I would agree with Carrie, I don’t think I would call putting the boat up for the winter the second best day. Maybe the second best day will be when I sell it, although I have no plans for that in the near future. So I will have to get back to you. Yes, the sad day of this season seems to be quickly approaching as the days are growing shorter and the nights cooler.