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8 Reasons to Give a Wide Berth to the Summer Booze Cruise…

8 Reasons to Give a Wide Berth to the Summer Booze Cruise…

8 Reasons to Give a Wide Berth to the Summer Booze Cruise…



I didn’t realize it was the first time I had been on a boat since I’ve been sober, until I was on a boat looking at the big white cooler that, on most watercraft, holds cold beer and wine… It was the first time in three years I was going for a boat ride that wasn’t a booze cruise and I was totally unprepared. I was Up North this weekend with Carrie and Annie, staying at Ross’s cabin and he arranged a tour around Charlevoix Harbor and into Lake Michigan with John (a teenaged throwback who was always too cool for my hackneyed version of school…).


My last boat ride was in in The Bahamas on a sweet Rybo-Runner that was so loaded with contraband, jalapeño stuffed olives and wheels of exotic cheeses we should have broken in the middle and sunk like an overweight freighter on the Great Lakes (see how I did that – with a reference to the Edmund Fitzgerald?). My captain, Wayde, was an unapologetic boat drinker and I was always three sheets to the Bahamian breeze by 10 AM. It is really my only reference to boating – drink and fish; drink and watch the regatta; drink and island hop; drink and snorkel; drink and pass out on the deck in the sun…


Back on Lake Michigan, we were listening to Frank Sinatra do “Summer Wind” and when “That’s Life” came on, we all bellowed (Annie actually crooned) into the wind, “I just pick myself up and get – back in the ray-ace…That’s life…” I have picked myself up and I am back in the boat race, my friends. And surprisingly, John’s cooler was full of bottled water. More surprisingly still, I did not miss the wine.


Sober boating is like drunk boating, but better.


Here’s Why Sober Boating Is Better Than Drunk Boating


  1. It’s Illegal to Operate a Boat Under the Influence: Hello? You are allowed to have open containers of alcohol in a boat and the captain can have a drink or two, but just like driving under the influence (DUI), it’s illegal to operate a boat under the influence (BUI) in all 50 states.
  2. Drinking and Boating Causes Accidents! The U.S. Coast Guard says more than half of all boating accidents involve alcohol or drugs.
  3. Do you Really Want to Do a Field Sobriety Test in the Middle of Open Water? I hate to think of walking a straight line on a pitching deck – the fact is if you are driving a boat erratically, you may find yourself with law enforcement officials pulling you over, boarding your boat and asking you to recite the alphabet backwards…
  4. You MISS All the Beauty When You Are Drunk: Even with the absolute gorgeousness of a day on the water, drinking telescopes your world down to the size of a wine glass. You forget to look up and around at the beauty that surrounds you.
  5. Drinking Makes You Sleepy: Alcohol is categorized as a depressant – add the roll of the waves, sunshine and a warm summer wind and you have the perfect cocktail for missing most of the action, because you need to “rest your eyes”. 
  6. You Lose Your Sea Legs When You’re Wasted: You might fall down. You could step on a fishhook. You may slip on suntan oil and fall overboard. You could drop the glass of wine you insisted had to be in a glass-glass and break it in a million pieces and then step on it and bleed all over the deck…
  7. You Might Have to “Pee in the Bucket”: John told us, “Not to be afraid of the bucket,” but you had to go to the bow and close a small half door and ask everyone to look the other way and pee into a bucket… all things to fear, or at least avoid. If you don’t have a head on the boat, drinking inhibits ADH – the body’s natural way to conserve water by reducing loss of urine – so you may have to pee in the bucket more than once (perish the thought)…
  8. Being Drunk Makes the Clean-Up Hard to Do When You Get Back to the Dock: My least favorite part about boating has always been at the end, when you get back to the dock. You have to swab decks and carry wet towels and hoist garbage bags full of empties and snap T-top canvas and stow life jackets. By the end of a boozy day on the water, the captain and crew are so tired and grumpy it is torture to make things shipshape for the next go-round.


Today I’m not drinking because I do not miss it on a boat…


How come you’re not drinking?

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Comments (3)

  1. Avatar
    Annie Ope r
    Jun 20, 2016

    It was sooooo much fun. I’m excited for you to send the pictures. Love this. And it was soooo much better than having drunk people fall all over you, because they can’t stand up on the water, not to mention the fear of taking your life in your hands when the skipper is drinking.
    Thanks again Ross!!!!

  2. Avatar
    Tim S
    Jun 20, 2016

    As a ex-Coast Guardsman,, I have to say hear, hear.

    As a lifelong sailor, I reiterate my previous suggestion that you take some classes and find a boat to crew on. (You won’t have any trouble with that, I suspect.). Alcohol is certainly present on sailboats but in my experience it’s an entirely different, low key, experience, much less part of the experience, and with a good breeze one doesn’t have a chance to think about it. There are things that need to be done and lines that need to be handled instead of sitting on one’s ass. And on a good sailing day with fresh wind, one always needs “one hand for the boat.”. The “big white cooler” is more likely to be a “small blue cooler” and doesn’t get opened until “the sun is over the yardarm,” if then.

  3. Avatar
    Jun 20, 2016

    M. My experiences in the Bahamas were similar to your second paragraph ( Sans. Rybo Runner).
    Sinatra was not in our thoughts. All Jimmy Buffet and Marley. I wonder what we missed while in a blur? R

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