Refuse to be “Sivilized”

December 8th, 2011

Are we more free on the water than on land? I say, yes. But I would also have to say that it’s probably more of a feeling than a human right. Still, it’s a great feeling.

Being on the water has always felt good to me, even as a child, and it feels ever better since September 11, 2001. The destruction of the World Trade Center’s twin towers and the murder of more than 3,000 innocents reminded us that we need the government to provide for our national defense – that’s in the constitution – but if you sometimes feel like life is just one big TSA pat-down, then I recommend boating.

And, in addition to airport and other government hassles, we have what is called the “nanny state.” I just read where New York’s health department wanted to outlaw day camp games like wiffle ball, kick ball and Red Rover? Too risky, you see. Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed.

The government-knows-best people are always looking for ways to curtail personal freedoms. Food police want to outlaw Happy Meals and require calorie counts. At one Chicago school the students can no longer pack a lunch and bring it to school

If that is the way civilization is going, heaven help us. It’s time to escape to the water just like Huckleberry Finn and Jim. They escaped on a Mississippi River raft, Jim from slavery and Huck from society’s attempts to “sivilize” him.

I call water “the wild blue wonder” and for me it is the very symbol of freedom. Looking at an expanse of water is nice but, let’s be honest, you’re not going to get that special feeling just by looking at it. You need to be on the water.

People list lots of reasons why they like to go boating. They like to fish, or paddle, or go fast, or go slow. They like being close to nature. They like fresh air and sunshine. They like the sound of the paddle, the sound of the sails, the sound of the motor. They like being with friends and family away from the reminders of life’s ever-present chores. Memories are made of this.

Today, a lot of busy people are deciding chartering a yacht is the way to go. Then you and your family and friends can really get away from it all because your boat has, hubba, hubba, beds and a kitchen.

Some people even opt to see the USA in a boat. For example, you actually can cruise protected water – barrier island channels, canals, bays, and rivers – from Fort Myers Florida to New York City, Montreal, Chicago, New Orleans and back again to Fort Myers. That’s called the Great Loop Cruise. It’s a long way and it takes a long time but you know what? A TSA agent will never pat you down or ask you to pose for a camera that removes your clothes.

I think boating is in our DNA. It’s why when we were toddlers we floated a toy boat in the tub. It’s why boy scouts graduate to sea scouts. It’s why my husband-to-be, Vic, built a teenager’s sailboat and made sails from old bed sheets. Today, it’s why we operate a charter boat company in paradise.

Be a good citizen, but don’t let them “sivilize” you. It’s a great feeling.

Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts, yacht charters, and Florida Sailing & Cruising School, a liveaboard yacht school. Contact her at, phone 1-800-262-7939 or visit

Christmas Boat Parade

December 8th, 2011

Lake Norman Yacht Club will host its first annual Christmas Flotilla and Parade of Lights on Saturday, December 3, 2011. This event is open to all members of Lake Norman Yacht Club (LNYC), Outrigger Yacht Club, Peninsula Yacht Club and All Seasons Marina. Please join us as we dazzle our lake community with our Christmas spirit! All participants are invited to a Christmas Party at the LNYC clubhouse immediately following the parade.

The parade will start at Channel marker D-7 at 6:00 pm and cruise to Holiday Harbor for a viewing and voting for best boat by the spectators at Rusty Rudder. Participants are required to attend a skippers meeting at the club house of Lake Norman Yacht Club at 5:00 pm.

For questions please contact Pete Marriott at or 704-562-6720 or visit for more info.

Lake wylie riversweep and other clean-up events net huge totals of waste removed and volunteer participation

December 8th, 2011

On Saturday, October 1st, residents throughout the Catawba River basin from Lake James all the way down to Lake Wylie gathered to help clean up their waterway. Boaters, fisherman, kayakers, scouts, retail associates and many other volunteers rolled up their sleeves and helped retrieve trash and other debris from the River’s shorelines and islands. At Lake Wylie alone, twenty tons of debris, glass, plastic and other wastes were removed by 1,000 volunteers dispersed at eleven sites around the lake’s shoreline.

“This was such a fun experience, and I got to give back to my community and River at the same time. Plus, seeing everything we pulled out of the River showed the positive impact we made in just a few hours,” stated Bridget Laszlo, a clean-up participant at Lake Wylie Riversweep.

“The Catawba River supports our lives with drinking water and precious family recreation time; it is inspiring to see our communities come together to help clean it for now and for generations to come,” stated Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman, in response to volunteer actions.

Volunteers found an abundant supply of tires, metal drums, glass bottles, StyrofoamTM, plastic lawn furniture, tackle boxes, hooks, motor oil containers, lighters, batteries, propane fuel canisters, hats, underwear, diapers and much more. Volunteers even pulled out a sunken jet ski and a 55-gallon plastic drum of Armor All® Tire Cleaner.

Mark your calendars for next year’s clean-up events on October 6, 2012. Come to the lake, stream or creek closest to you for a few hours of cleaning up your local waterway.