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BoatUS Discovers Boaters Are Happy

By Sailingguide

File this one under Obvious, even though it made a lot of boating press this week. BoatUS put out a press release stating that in their survey of BoatUS members, 99.4% of respondents say they wave at other boats. Their conclusion opens the release: "If you thought people seemed happier spending time on a boat, you're right." Well, duh. Why else are we out there in our boats?

You can stop reading now if you dislike analysis of things like surveys, language, and the motivations of for-profit organizations. I have no beef with BoatUS, but really, this press release was a bit silly. First, the survey itself, referred to as the "first-ever survey of the half a million recreational boat owning members of the national boating advocacy and services group." Aside from being a kind of a shameless plug for their numbers, they don't say how many people actually answered the survey; I'm one of those half-million members and I didn't even see it, and maybe only a few hundred actually did? Maybe only happy, waving people answered, or those still in the glow of just getting off the boat, while grumpy people in office cubes chose not to answer? After all, the BoatUS president who initiated the survey says she did so because she saw so many boaters not waving at others. So she concludes from the survey, only half-jokingly, that BoatUS members apparently have more fun on the water than others.

A tempest in a teapot, but as a student of language (and former college instructor of same) I had fun with the press release while noting all the free publicity they got as the story was repeated around the circuit online.

But seriously, waving at boats is fun and good etiquette. I always wave at other sailboats and universally get a wave back, but I've stopped waving at most powerboats zooming past me in or out of the harbor because they so often just stare back dumbfounded. A curious difference, and fun to speculate about. (And it's always fun to open myself up to hate mail from both major organizations and individuals!)

And oh, my own shameless plug: what really makes me happy is cruising in a sailboat.

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