Aug. 10 Weekender: Second Opinion – What happened to fun on the water?

What happened to fun on the water? I mean real fun.

What happened to fun on the water? I mean real fun.

Oh, I know that little kids still play in the sand on the beach, or wade at the shore looking for minnows and pretty rocks – I can see them from the deck of my cabin on Shuswap Lake.

But relatively few 10- to 12-year-olds, or teenagers, or twentysomethings pursue real fun: hour after hour of water skiing or wake boarding, crashing and flailing and face planting while trying ever more difficult tricks and manoeuvres at ever higher speeds. Now that’s fun!

As a 15-year-old, I spent whole days waterskiing behind a heavy, wooden, 4.88-metre fishing boat powered by a 25-horsepower Evinrude.  The motor was so underpowered that it took 30 seconds of inhaling water and exhaust fumes at the end of the tow line before the skis popped you up onto a plane.

Getting up on a slalom ski was impossible.

If we forgot to bail the boat every half hour, getting up on two skis became impossible as well.

When I got the chance to ski behind a friend’s fibreglass runabout powered by the then amazing 75 horse Mercury, I was in heaven. That baby could drag us up to 72-km per hour. We would brag about how many times we bounced on the water after we fell. Now that was fun!

For a while, I thought that perhaps environmental awareness and/or the cost of gasoline might be affecting the perception of fun on the water. Yet the most popular recreational boat sold is the expensive, gas-guzzling wakeboard boat.

I routinely see a parade of $80,000 wakeboard boats motor by the cabin with elaborate tow bars and overhead racks filled with boards and skis of all kinds and a dozen tanned occupants, yet fewer than one boat in 15 is actually towing anyone.

The only things on the elaborate racks that are in use are the 4000-watt speakers pounding out a hip-hop bass line at a volume loud enough to kill fish. That’s not real fun.

The fun is even gone from tubing, that marvellous water-bourn activity that used to require no skill other than a good grip.

As a youth, I practiced a variety of techniques to remain attached to the tractor tire tube that we towed behind the boat.

The object was to stay with the tube as long as possible and achieve the highest elevation before being thrown off. No one survived, or expected to. Boat speed was constantly raised and the turns sharpened until tube and passengers parted company. Now that was fun!

Today tubes have become huge flying wedges that hold three or four people.

They have been engineered to stay in line behind the boat, never crossing the wake, but sedately trailing along in smooth water.

Young people still whoop and holler from these inflatable cocoons, revelling, I suppose in the novelty and excitement of being slightly damp and out from behind their laptop screens.

It seems that the age group that once craved on-the-water action and exertion has been replaced by those satisfied with observation and exhibition, and that individuals seeking thrills have become groups seeking attention. That’s not fun.

– Jim Holtz is Weekender columnist and former reporter for the Grand Forks Gazette

Just Posted

Former GFSS student wins Governor General’s Award

Daisy Klassen finished high school with a 95.9 per cent grade average

Local athlete nominated for top B.C. award

Charlie Kain has been involved with Special Olympics since he was 11

Tournament looking for volunteers

It takes more than 200 volunteers to run the event

Chamber of commerce adjusts course after 2018 overspend

Businesses have already seen support this year from a downtown revitalization expert

Larson will not run in next B.C. election

The MLA for Boundary-Similkameen said that she wants to spend more time with family

Raptors announcer credited with calming massive crowd after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

Sexting teens at risk of harms including depression, substance use: study

Use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana were also found to be associated with sexting

Deadline for cabinet to decide future of Trans Mountain expansion is today

International Trade Minister Jim Carr described the decision as ‘very significant’

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Most Read