Living in Southwest Florida, you’re never too far from the water. But I’m not talking about going to the beach, I’m talking about the water. I’m talking about boating. And I find myself in the position that many of us struggle with. I live a mile from the coast and I can’t afford a boat. That’s why it’s important to have Friends With Boats.

I’ll admit, it’d be nice to have a boat of my own. Maybe even something small. Cruising the bay with my girl and my dog, waving to all the other boats. But there’s also reality. And it’s not about the work. I’d have no problem loading a boat on a trailer, cleaning and rinsing, bringing it back to storage. It’s not the work.

I have a nice house with a pool that cost a lot. Even if I bought a boat, it’s the maintenance, storage, the FUEL and all of the other expenses that would crush me. Even renting a boat from someplace like Port 32 in Naples is gonna be hundreds of dollars for the day. So keep that in mind when someone invites you to a day on the water. Boating is expensive. That’s why Friends With Boats is so important.

So as a long time “boat guest”, what are some of the things you need to do to get invited back? There’s actually a few things I do, but it all starts with this:


  • Attitude

    No one goes on the water to complain about your work, or your kids. And don’t go on about some kind of medical thing you got going on. We’re all here to have fun. To quote Mike Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High: “Act like wherever you are, that’s the place to be. Isn’t this great?”


  • Don't offer to pay for fuel

    Fuel at the docks is a lot more than at the local gas station. Boat owners pay almost double what you pay. If they ask, chip in, absolutely. But no one has ever asked. I think if you offer it might get weird.

  • Bring more than you need

    I show up with a lot of Corona. More than I could drink. Limes already cut and in a bag. I bring waters, I bring Gatorade. Bottle of tequila. Little plastic cups.  I also bring that Frito Lay variety pack from Costco. Worse case is they don’t need it and you put it back in your car. More importantly, I bring Pub Subs. And I tell everyone in advance that I’m bringing them. I’m gonna tell you my secret and hope that word doesn’t get back to Publix management and they change things. Don’t buy the premade platters. You need to order them in advance and they cost more than what I’m about to tell you. (Thanks to RC for this tip). Go to the sandwich counter at Publix the night before your boat trip. Just after the dinner rush and before they start cleaning up. Around 7p. Order as many subs as you have people. Last time I was out there was 6 of us, so I order 6 subs. Order simple subs like Italian, roast beef, ham and cheese. Get just meat and cheese on the subs, have them cut into quarters, and individually wrapped. For toppings? Have them put toppings into individual zipper bags. Get a bag of tomatoes, bag of lettuce, etc. Go grab a bunch of the other condiments from the area next to the soda machine and now you have your own Pub Sub platter. There’s no room in the cooler for the big plastic serving platter anyway, so why pay for it? Label the subs and put them in gallon freezer bags so they don’t get wet when the ice melts.

  • Help load the boat

    Should be obvious, jump in there and help.

  • Help with lines

    And don’t pretend to know what you’re doing just because you watched an entire season of “Below Deck”. If you’re not sure, ask. By helping with lines you are now ‘part of the crew’.


  • Don't be obnoxious

    Don’t force drinks or shots onto the captain. They’re supposed to be the sober one driving the boat. Cops have boats, and they are watching. Offer, but don’t be pushy.

  • Cleanup

    Help unload and move stuff to the car. If they’re doing a rinse and wipe down grab a towel. Do NOT disappear during the hardest part. Getting everything straight after a day on the water is work. Be ready to help.

  • There you have it

    I’ve managed to live in Estero for 20 years without owning a boat. It’s about Friends With Boats that get you out onto the water.

  • No Friends With Boats - you can still do this:

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