I just bought another boat, despite the fact that I agreed to cap the fleet at three boats when my wife agreed to marry me. How’d I get around the rule? Simple – I didn’t buy it for myself. In fact, I recently purchased this 14′ skiff for my 13 year-old sons.
Some may question the timing, but in my mind, every kid should have access to their own boat by the time they reach their teens. There are, of course, a few prerequisites:
- The kids have to get their Texas Boater Education Certificate.
- The boat has to be safe, which means having built-in floatation.
- The boat should be intentionally under-powered. The 14-foot skiff with an eight horsepower outboard, for example, will just barely plane out with two teens on board. Top speed is 15 or 16 mph, and cruising speed is around 12 mph. That may not cut it for you or me, but it will keep the kids from getting too crazy.
- The boat should be kept in the water, so the kids can use it without bothering mom & dad.
- The boat needs an excess of safety gear, including a satellite messenger. Not only do these allow the kids to send a 911, they also allow you to track the boat’s whereabouts with a “bread-crumb trail” feature. Activate it, and you can go online to Google Maps and see exactly where those kids are. We don’t want to be Big Brother, but if the kids know we can see where they are it’ll keep them honest, and prevent fool-hearty voyages into open waters.
Now, I know a lot of you are probably thinking that it’s spoiling the kids, to buy them something as expensive as a boat (even a well-used boat, like this one). I agree – and that’s why they’ll have to pay for it, in a manner of speaking. The agreement in our family is that every week during the summer, those kids are going to supply me with a dozen jumbo-sized crabs. The rest of the catch they can sell off for bait and fuel money, which will be their responsibility. That seems fair enough, to me – especially since those guys are helping me get around that three-boat rule.