View from the Marina: OUR LABOR OF LOVE
By Barb Hansen
July 1, 2004
The year was 1984. Nuclear arms controls with the Soviet Union were unraveling. The prime loan rate was 13 percent. Vic and I started Southwest Florida Yachts.
I guess we were in an "Oh, what the heck" state of mind. Hey, if you're going to get hit by a nuclear bomb, why not move to Florida, get married, start a yacht chartering business and a yacht school and, as they say, live happily ever after. Keep in mind that "ever after" on this earth was, in cold war terms, only going to last another couple of months or so.
Except for the part about the nuclear bomb, all of that is pretty much how it has been. Knock-knock. Twenty years on, we're still living and working the waterfront dream. We have survived the fall of the USSR, the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War (we tied yellow ribbons on our boats), parachute pants, Pac-Man, the O. J. Simpson trial, Bill Clinton, Hurricane Andrew and, so far, the Islamofascist war against American freedom.
Vic and I subscribe to the philosophy that if you have a job that you love, you'll never have to work another day in your life.
I realize that's not 100 percent true. Still I would much prefer to do what I do 12 hours a day than, say, sell insect killer for four hours a day.
And even when I'm tied and bound to the office for 12 hours a day, it's almost always a good day's labor of love. I can look out the window 12 months of the year and see blue water and boats and people enjoying both. When clients who charter our yachts or attend one of our live-aboard boating courses are happy and excited, I'm happy and excited for them.
I confess to taking particular pleasure knowing that after 20 years we're still engaged in our marine industry enterprise while so many other businesses, including many we considered too big to fail, have bitten the dust.
Twenty years ago AT&T was the only long distance company. When we called a customer in those days, we were mindful that it was costing us about $1 a minute.
At one time or another the "next big thing" was announced--I recall ads for household gadgets like the Hot Topper and the Clapper - but now are all but forgotten.
In 1984 we did not have a computer. Every letter to a customer had to be a start-from-scratch endeavor. We were here before most had ever heard of a fax machine, or a cell phone, or a Web site. There was no Internet to speak of, no email.
In 1984, instead of browsing the Internet, we watched Cheers, Hill Street Blues, Happy Days, Three's Company, Dallas, Baywatch, Fantasy Island, Roseanne, The Love Boat and Golden Girls. Today we get "Reality TV," or so they call it.
It's enough to make you want to check out of civilization for a few days and go boating. Now that's something that was with us in 1984, is still with us in 2004 and, I'm confident, will be with us in 2024. Experts say that from time to time we should escape from the routine and stress of our daily lives. Chartering is one of the best ways to escape. Boating reaches deep into the human psyche and scratches an itch that doesn't get scratched by watching, say, the Fear Factor.
Now I'm not here to advocate dropping out of your life as you know it and sailing off into the sunset. But, a little "escape" now and then does wonders for the mind, body and soul. So, this year, consider putting yourself in this scene: You're on a luxury trawler anchored in a scenic cove at the end of the day. You've got your hand wrapped around a cold drink. The setting sun lights up the clouds with pinks, oranges, purples and reds. And, you think, life really is good.
That's the best kind of reality program.
This is another in a series of personal reflections about the boating life by Barb Hansen, co-founder and manager with husband Vic Hansen of Southwest Florida Yachts, N. Fort Myers, Fla. Southwest Florida Yachts charters luxury trawlers and sailing vessels. Southwest Florida Yachts Sales and Brokerage Services helps you find the ideal vessel for you to own. Florida Sailing & Cruising School provides live-aboard sail and power yacht instruction.