Well Beyond The Wave

April 2023 Feature Brady L. Kay

On most weekdays between roughly mid-April to late October (depending on the season), I ride the same motorcycle to work that I’ve been riding for over 20 years. With nearly 50,000 miles on the odometer I guess it’s now in the vintage category, but it still looks good to me and it runs great. On occasion I take my children for rides in the evenings or on the weekends and one of the first things I taught them when they were old enough to ride along – besides how to not burn themselves on the exhaust pipes when getting off the bike – is the responsibility of my passengers to wave to other motorcycles when we’re out. Most bikers wave back and I like the bond that it creates that lets others know we’re watching out for each other.

Waving of course is not isolated to just motorcycle riders. I see it with people driving Corvettes, Jeeps, but especially on the water with boaters. In most cases I would bet those waving to each other are complete strangers and probably have never even met. Yet because they share a common interest while cruising in the same brand of pontoon or driving the same type of vehicle, they’re compelled to wave to each other and I think it’s great. On my boat we like to wave to all boaters, but especially when we see another pontoon. 

But waving is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Those friendly gestures reflect groups of people who I believe truly care about one another. It goes beyond the wave; they’ll stop to help if something’s wrong. These community-minded people trade ideas and figure things out, doing whatever it takes to help make things right if you’re ever is a bad situation.

A real sense of comradery with each other is what I truly appreciate and I am especially glad this type of conduct is well reflected among boaters. I see it all the time, and it doesn’t matter the type of boat or the boaters onboard. It could be a wave or maybe just a simple head nod. Whatever it is, I think it’s the basis for what is needed these days on water as well as on land.

I’ve said for years that I strongly believe boaters are some of the nicest and friendliest people you’ll ever meet. I’ve been on both sides of a boat rescue and if you haven’t had similar experiences you probably haven’t been on the water enough. I don’t know why it’s different, but I tend to be a little more hesitant to ask for help in a Wal-Mart parking lot than I do at a marina.

I’ve been broken down in need of a tow, I’ve been completely lost and unsure how to get back to our campsite and I’ve been on fumes to the point where I had no realistic shot of getting to the marina without running out of gas. In every example it was not only a boater who came to my rescue, but it was a complete stranger, who after his good deed was done, I never saw again.

On the flip side I’ve towed more boats back to the marina than I can count, rescued a young couple in a sunken canoe once and I have jumped many dead batteries after a day on the sandbar ran longer than expected, to name a few examples.

The point is, regardless of how well we plan, prep or whatever, there will come a time when we could all use a little help ourselves. That’s why it never hurts to pay it forward and be that helping hand to others while you’re waiting for your time of need to arrive. This is what makes us different. This is what makes us boaters.

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