A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Who wants to go for a boat ride?

The best vehicle for promoting our sport isn’t a video or a blog or a tweet or even a boat sitting in a showroom. It’s a boat ride. And the best ambassador for our sport is you and me.

That’s no secret, but I was reminded once again of the power and magic of a simple boat ride at a late-afternoon gathering on Tuesday along the lower Connecticut River, where Soundings Trade Only is based.

The magazine staff (Trade, Soundings and Power & Motoryacht) got together for burgers and dogs and good fellowship at the riverfront home of editorial director George Sass Jr., complete with a dock and a boat. The rain and dark clouds sailed away to the east by late afternoon. The river was still and empty. The light was lovely. And a bunch of people who aren’t used to getting out on the water got a great look at this wonderful river from George’s classic 1968 Boston Whaler.

I arrived at the soirée just as the boat was returning to the dock. The four co-workers who stepped off were all smiles and chatter. Their hair was blown back, their eyes were bright, and the humdrum of the workaday world had vanished. This process was repeated several times.

“Who wants to go for a boat ride?” shouted Gary DeSanctis, the AIM Marine Group publisher. Is there a better call to action? There were plenty of takers (and even a couple of small adventures).

During a brainstorming meeting last week with the editors and publishers of Active Interest Media’s Marine Group we kicked around ways we can help encourage more youth participation in boating. One idea is to communicate through columns, blogs and social media the power of your first boat ride. For some of us, that one special outing under power or sail, paddle or oar was a transformative moment, the pathway that led us to where we are today.

As an industry and as individuals, the more we are able to provide similar opportunities to others, the more we contribute to our long-term growth.

The last run at dusk on Tuesday carried five guys who have all owned boats. We sashayed south through the gloaming, carving the quiet water as the lights in the river houses and along the small muddy lanes flickered on. What continues to amaze me about boats and the water is how invigorating the experience still feels, even after all these years.


4 comments on “Who wants to go for a boat ride?

  1. Joan Maxwell

    Bill, thanks for the reminder, boating is just plain fun! We had the opportunity to run a boat last week with one of our customers. All the worries of the day went away when we pulled away from the dock. He was happy and so were we!

  2. loren schweizer

    Having been in the business on the wholesale and retail ends for over thirty years, there is the thought that one might become jaded by “Just a boat ride”.
    An oldtime client offered up exactly that a week or so ago.
    It’s late afternoon. We have sorted out a minor issue regarding the starboard clutch on a 51-foot motoryacht and then slipped our lines. I was thinking, maybe he’s going to do a short spin down the ditch and back. We headed out Baker’s Haulover, ran up to where the stacks used to be, and then headed down south on the inside to the dock.
    What a delightful 2-3 hours spent just messin’ around in boats.

    Bill, you are right on the money.

  3. Carl Blackwell

    Step off the dock onto the deck of a boat and your life changes. Welcome to the Water!! I’ve got a personal competition going on with a few others in the industry to see who can bring the most people out on the water this summer. Nothing feels better as a boater than seeing the joy of a child or even an adult who has never experienced seeing the land from the water (especially here in Chicago). I’m going to try to win that bet. Thanks for the reminder Bill.

  4. Brian Butler

    Who doesn’t like to go for a ride on the water? For those dealers on the water why not have a weekly or monthly informal dockside grill out along with demo rides of a selected boat? Promoting via all social channels will create some great online buzz. Use your website, blog and email list to let current and perspective buyers know about the event. You may get some tire kickers but more often then not I bet you will get good, solid customers. It also gives your current customers an opportunity to stop by and see the latest offering in a more social environment without the sales pressure. Maybe they are ready to trade-in and needed an excuse to come by the store. For a small investment you stand to gain new customers and build camaraderie with existing base.

    Not on the water? Partner with another business that is and work together to help both brands. Lots of opportunities to cross sell the boating lifestyle and it all begins with those 8 words.

    Bill, let’s go for a boat ride and spread the word!

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