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Lessons from Billy’s boat ride

01/07/2011 23:45

It was the first time I was going to be the captain in charge of a sail. Better still, the first time I was going to be a sailor. An interesting experience, no doubt, but one with lessons to learn from.


Really, the first I had a boat ride was sometime in Sept. 2004. It was a canoe paddled by a young fellow who sat at the edge, with the other passenger and me, gingerly seated in the middle. It was scary. We both held our hands, and indeed, our breath, for the about 10 minute ride, somewhere up in the northern part of Nigeria. 


But this boat ride, along the Fort Lauderdale waterways was a different experience in many ways. Setting out at sea from the Marina you have a sense that boat rides are very much a part of life here. The harbour has a significant number of boats of different makes, sizes and shapes that it harbours, with parking slots as expensive as $250 a week. One of them belonged to Billy Bedia, in which we were going to sail. 


For me, it looked more like a luxury. But for folks here, not excluding the tourists that flock into Fort Lauderdale, boat rides are very much a way of life. In fact, the tourism industry explores this avenue of a well-structured sailing experience for visitors to the city. There is the Jungle Queen Riverboat, which operates daily BBQ dinner cruise, the Riverfront Cruises, not forgetting the Water Taxi, which provides you the opportunity of a pickup. You must however, be ready to part with some hard earned money.


I enjoyed the ride in Billy’s boat. For one, it was a free ride (after all who doesn’t like freebie). It was also in company of his family, and those of Antonio Fins. Simply put, a fun time and a perfect way to prepare for a new week. The Sunday ride provided a panoramic view of cargo ship from Europe that just dock, and impressive sight of ship setting out for the Caribbean, which looked more like hotels at sea. 


Standing behind the steering wheel, was however, the most interesting part of the ride. Turning the wheel from left to right to create a balance in the middle of the waterway sounds like an easy task, but then, the wind and current play a contributing factor to your movement. I was in charge, but of course, with Billy beside me as my tutor. 


“When you are at sea in a boat or ship,” he said, “you’re at the mercy of the sea.”


Indeed, a moment of loss of control can result in the wind and current making you go adrift. Funnily enough, I had scenes from the movie Titanic flash through my mind, and wondered if such could still happen in an age of advanced technology. 


Ship still sink as a result of hitting an iceberg, usually due to a sailor’s negligence, he made me to understand. 


The message is apt: a boat ride is akin to life. In truth, the sailor must be focused, maintain balance and avoid distractions.


- Your Pal



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