Captain's Chair

Ranking The Boating Holidays

Published in the September 2012 Issue September 2012 Feature Brady L. Kay

Unlike Ford versus Chevy, when it comes to the best boating holiday of the year there's very little to debate about. If the Fourth of July isn't at the top of your list as a boater, you might be doing something wrong. Yeah, you do have a little bit of a crowd issue, but I love nothing more than to celebrate America with a barbecue while watching fireworks from the water. Yep, it truly doesn't get much better than this. However, where the real debate starts is deciding which boating holiday is the runner-up.

Keep in mind, this all about boating holidays. If we weren't talking about boats, Thanksgiving could hold its own against any holiday. Food, family and football: I challenge anyone to argue against Thanksgiving. Plus unlike Christmas, there's zero hype. It's not like you're going to start seeing aisles at Wal-Mart filling up with Thanksgiving decorations in August.

All boating holidays are great in my opinion. I love them like a fat man loves Sara Lee, so ranking them is not a task that I take lightly. I've always been a fan of Memorial Day weekend because this holiday usually signals that boating season is officially here. The kids are out of school and everyone is just excited to get back out on the water while fully anticipating the great summer months ahead.

However, during this time of year there is a chance you could see more rain than rays, but that's not enough to knock it. In fact, most of the time those who are boating on this weekend enjoy favorable temperatures. Although the water can be a little cooler following the spring runoff, it's a great time to get back on the water after a long winter layup.

Now let's not forget about Labor Day weekend. For some this holiday would get votes for top honors. For one, it's usually less crowded since school is back in session and local fairs are popping up all over the place. Blame it on my day job, but I've probably spent more Labor Day weekends on the water than off because it just feels like the perfect time to be boating. Years ago when I had a gas grill mounted on the rail of our pontoon, I had one of the best Labor Day weekends in recent memory. I had just installed the grill and enjoyed a trip on the water that didn't involve eating cold sandwiches. We cooked up burgers and corn on the cob and I was in heaven. Yes, my greatest memories seem to include food, but that just makes me American, right? It seems like we had the lake to ourselves that weekend and I can recall even the smallest of details like it was yesterday.

My plans for this year are still up in the air, but the odds are good my Labor Day weekend will be centered on boating. So for me, this holiday earns the coveted second spot on my rankings list, followed closely by Memorial Day. Now's there's a select few that are able to boat year-round and that puts you in a different category. I've always wanted to boat on New Year's Day or participate in a floating Christmas parade where the boats are all decorated with lights, but even if I could, I don't think it would change my rankings. The big three holidays during the summer months are still highest on my list and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Which boating holiday ranks highest on your list? Send your rankings to and let us know which holiday you feel deserves to be on top and why.

Brady L. Kay

Brady L. Kay
PDB Editor

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