There is nothing like being out in the ocean, watching the landscape shrink down to a picturesque backdrop.
The saltwater breeze and rhythmic waves create a peace felt nowhere else in the world.
But being out at sea is not an easy, or cheap, endeavor. The training and maintenance required to operate a water bound vessel is extensive.
That’s why they say the happiest day of a boater’s life is the day he buys a boat…and the day he sells it.
But did you know you don’t have to own a boat to hit the open seas?
Believe it or not, there are ways you can become a boater without the craft.
This may seem like an oxymoron, but there are options for boat training and boat rentals without the costly purchase of actually owning a boat.
Steve Sansford, who has written many Transport Canada safety and navigation ratings, as well as authored pieces in Powerboating Canada Magazine, reports in Northern Ontario Travel:
“I consider myself a boater, despite the fact I neither own a boat, nor am I in the market to buy a boat. I am simply an individual who enjoys boating. I realize this seems like a bit of a contradiction, but I assure you: one does not have to own a boat to experience the fun of getting out on the water.”
Boats are not only expensive modes of transportation in and of themselves, but the maintenance and storage of them can drain the bank account quick.
So, here are some great ideas to get your sea legs without the hassle of storing and caring for a boat—and still having boatloads of fun along the way!
Take a boating lesson
Marinas and many oceanside companies offer classes to become certified in operating a boat.
You can take group or individual lessons depending on your budget and learning preferences.
The lessons will vary depending on whether taken in fresh water or salt water, as the care and operation differs.
As you advance in your training, you can even earn the credentials to become a skipper with your own crew.
Rent a boat
After you have successfully completed a boating lesson, you will be able to rent a boat to take out on your own.
Check with marinas, lodges, and camps to see what their rental programs look like.
And if you find that a short trip on the water just isn’t cutting it anymore, you can try a houseboat rental.
This way you can wake up and follow the seagulls every morning with your cup of joe.
Join a boat club
According to the Northern Ontario Travel website, there is an organization called the Carefree Boat Club that offers memberships all over Northern America.
Once you have a membership, you can access any of their boats at any of their locations.
There are full instructions with each boat, so a beginner can operate the vessel with minimal stress.
This is a great option for traveling. You don’t have to worry about hitching and hauling a big boat to get to your port.
Charter a yacht
Chartering a yacht may seem extreme, but once you’ve mastered smaller boats, you may be ready for a little more adventure.
Plus, who hasn’t dreamed of coming down starboard with a skipper cap on and telling all your champagne drinking guests that it’s going to be a good night?!
With a yacht being a larger vessel, you will need to be an experienced and confident boater by this point.
To pilot your own yacht, you’ll want to specifically ask to rent a “bareboat charter”. Most yachts automatically come with a captain and crew unless you otherwise specify you want bareboat.
Become a fractional owner
Putting a little money up for a boat can give you more access to the water and the feeling of being an owner without all the liability.
A fractional owner splits boat ownership with one or more partners and all own equal stake in the vessel.
You will decide on certain dates the boat will be in your possession upon your purchase.
Operating the same boat each time you go out to sea does give a level of comfort and control that you won’t have when renting different boats at different locations.
There is no doubt that being your own captain has its advantages and thrills.
But don’t let the fact that you don’t own a boat keep you from taking that weeklong fishing trip with your son you’ve always dreamed of.
Start with a simple lesson and see if boating is what you hoped it would be.
Odds are you will be hooked once you take the wheel and set your sights on the endless possibilities the open sea offers.
(h/t Proud American Traveler)