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The Cost of Boating, and the
Memories You Can't Put a Price On

Let's be honest here for a second. Boating can be expensive. Really expensive, or so it seems sometimes. I'll never forget the first time I had a fuel pump shut off at $100 after a day of tubing and I had to swipe the card again to finish filling up. Then there was the first time I saw a pump quit at $500 and I had to swipe the card again. Pretty painful, to be sure, but there are things in life that you just can't put a value on.

If you're sitting on the fence wondering whether you should buy a boat, this article is for you. Dealers and brokers alike will tell you all about "family time," and "memories you will create on the water." I used to think it was another way to get you to spend that last drop of disposable income in their shop. Of course they want your business, but they're also 100% correct on the memories.

Every family has their own stories to tell, and here are a few of mine:

1984: George Orwell's prophecy, and also a great year for Bruce Springsteen. "Dancing in the Dark" went to #2 on the Billboard, and Bruce was doing a concert tour. The following summer, he returned to Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium to sing for 60,000 of his favorite fans. My little brother got through to Ticketmaster after dialing the phone for two hours, and we had eight tickets to one of the hottest concerts of the summer. We each called three friends, two of them sisters, and we needed a cool ride to get us there. Dad, who had never experienced eight teenagers on a boat before, called some of his friends, and offered to take us to the concert aboard the "Erimark," a factory-fresh Sea Ray 300 Sedan Bridge.

The twelve of us left the Beaver River after lunch, locked through Dashields then Emsworth, and tied up at "The Point" for a nice evening. The Point is where the Allegheny meets the Mon, and the Ohio River starts at 0.0, some 600 twisty miles from Louisville. We spent a few hours wandering around the lawn and fountain at Point State Park, home of Fort Pitt. We enjoyed a nice picnic dinner, watching the crowds swelling on the bridges as tens of thousands of people walked from their cars to the stadium. About an hour before the concert, we retrieved the lines, and motored over to the Stadium. Getting off the boat was better than crawling out of a stretched limousine.

Pictured below is the Springsteen crew, including my future wife. Not only did that day on the boat help me hook the Admiral, but it eventually sparked her desire for a cruiser.

Fast forward twenty years. Now that we have children of our own, the boat has provided countless opportunities for us to spend time together. Sure, there are days when we return to the marina just a little too late and the kids are screaming at each other. Sometimes, it even makes docking a challenge with the Admiral attending to and dealing with the kids, but we wouldn't trade the time away from the dock for anything.

Since moving to Louisville, we have had some great times checking out the rope swings, the 4th of July fireworks, and best of all, Thunder Over Louisville. Sometimes we float with the current down to 12 Mile Island, and sometimes it's a trip to Buckheads, where we could have driven for a fraction of the fuel. The kids always want to look for turtles cruising up Harrod's Creek, and my favorite is a casual weekday evening behind 18 Mile Island rafted up with some friends for a nice dinner.

At the end of the year, you can pull up Quicken's Easy Report "How much did I spend -> this year on -> Boat", and get a shock. In the end, however, you wouldn't trade your memories for anything.

-Capt. Eric



Eric Grubb
Founder, Port KY
Licensed Master

Eric grew up around boats, trading summers on board his parents' Sea Rays for many man-hours of swabbing the decks. He grew up by the little town of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, overlooking the the Dashields Locks and Dam. He has traveled the Great Lakes, Lake Huron's North Channel, Gulf of Mexico and several rivers to include the Ohio, Allegheny, Monongahela, Kanawha, Mohawk (Erie Canal), Tennessee, Tombigbee, Black Warrior and Mobile Rivers.

As a commercial pilot, Eric flies jets and is a flight instructor. He has owned recreational boats ranging from PWCs to most recently, a flybridge convertible that he keeps in a Louisville marina (MM 590). You can also find him with his family on the "Escape Pod," an 18' fishing boat. His most memorable journey was aboard the J. S. Lewis, a 155' towboat in service since 1931.

Eric is a USCG Licensed Master with a Commerical Tow Assistance rating, and is a member of the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Riverman and the Louisville Sail and Power Squadron. After moving to Louisville, he conceived the idea for Louisville's Port KY website while searching for information to help him become a safer and more knowledgable local boater. He has worked hard over the years to educate other boaters by promoting safety classes through Port KY and by hosting captain's classes and related events.







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