As the summer of 2013 winds down, I find myself reflecting on what was. This past summer was many things but, for me, as of today, I’d have to say it was the Summer of the Boat.
I’ve had the good fortune of finding myself on a boat on three occasions this summer, which is about a 300% increase from my typical rate of summer boat-on-being. Before you get too jealous, allow me to deflate your expectations entirely.
Forgetting for a moment that some people actually either work on boats or require boats as a form of transportation, boating is completely ridiculous. That’s not to say that it’s not an enjoyable leisure activity—quite the opposite, really. In it’s platonic ideal, a boat is a means for real-world escapism, a vessel upon which one can traverse uncharted, isolated ocean, know oneself, conquer nature, channel Ernest Hemingway, and so on.
What The Lonely Island tap into on “I’m On a Boat,” however, is the more modern, completely inane version of that ideal: the privilege of getting around in a floating mansion. In this sense, a boat is the ultimate luxury good. For starters, this sort of boat exists purely for leisure. Sure, it technically can be a form of transportation but I’d like to see some numbers on exactly how many boats actually end their journey in a different place than they start. More that that, boats are a luxury item that literally drain owners of disposable income, requiring constant maintence costs and usage fees. It’s the gift that keeps on taking. This is something most people will never experience, making it rare and, by extension, valuable.
Alas, for the likes of me, being on a boat boils down to being a visitor in someone else’s world. Boating on borrowed time, if you will. To wit, my 2013 boating experiences are the sort that are accessible to most anyone, generally characterized by completely absurd catches, and not really something to get amped about. That essentially describes my summer in a nutshell.
Boat No. 1: Lakeside Pleasurecraft
The Summer of the Boat started off with some promise. I was invited to a 4th of July cookout at a home on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. There, I boarded a small pleasurecraft and took to the waters. Unfortunately, being July 4th, so did everyone else in the damn world. Don’t get me wrong, this is as close to truly Being On a Boat as most people get and it was fun. But, surrounded by hundreds of other boats, the discrete charm of having something that other people don’t quickly fades. Not exactly the isolation you want on a boat. More than that, being a 4th of July hotspot, the explosions of fireworks would shoot across the water at ear-piercing volume. ‘Murica.
Boat No. 2: Pirate-themed Booze Cruise
My next boating excursion was a truly special experience on the famed harbor of the good city of Baltimore. Again, not at all a bad experience, but the complete antithesis of why boats are supposed to be awesome:
- Pirate theme
- Open to the public
- Manditory participation in games
- Pirate theme
- Staged sea battle with enemy pirates
Also, if boats are supposed to be about freedom, this one really screwed the pooch. As a passanger, I was readily encouraged to drink to the point of being a danger to myself and others but utterly forbidden from smoking a cigarette. I THOUGHT PIRATES DIDN’T HAVE RULES.
Boat No. 3: The Minne Ha-Ha
Most recently, I found myself at Lake George in New York aboard the Minne Ha-Ha, a steam powered paddle boat that makes hourly trips around the perimeter of the lake. This is the central feature of the Minne Ha-Ha.
The Minne Ha-Ha Calliope
Essentially, this is the boat the Mickey Mouse is the captain of in Steamboat Willie. ‘Nuff said.
And so, it is with some sadness that the Summer of the Boat comes to an end. But, somehow it was an oddly fitting end to my decade as a twentysomething—an occasion marked by the promise of awesomeness that in actuality was, though enjoyable at times, completely and utterly absurd.
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