This article marks the beginning of a series profiling common idioms and phrases spoken over the years that have their genesis in the maritime domain. You will see in the coming editions how our language has been influenced by these expressions.
Let’s begin with a maxim that has perception regarding your vessel but in fact, is much more profound. “Whatever floats your boat,” was believed to be first used in the mid-1900s; actually referring to making a personal decision about a certain subject or task. It also basically implied indifference which also has a direct reference to boating safety, or the lack thereof. Although the meaning of the phrase is not directly connected to a boat, it has an important lateral meaning and message, something we will discuss further.
The summer boating season is almost here. I will admit, from the earlier date of the original submission of this draft, I do not know what awaits us in this new version of normal. Each day brings something unique, and unexpected. My objective this month of May is to remind everyone of the significance of risk management and water safety, celebrating National Safe Boating Week, May 16th through May 22nd. Boating statistics are undeniable mathematics and not subject to personal opinion. The numbers conclusively point to drowning as the leading cause of death in water-related accidents. According to published information found in the U.S. Coast Guard brochure, How to Choose the Right Life Jacket; “one-half of all recreational boating fatalities happen in calm water.” If you want to understand more about how to prevent incidents such as these or obtain a copy of the informational pamphlet, please contact the USCG Auxiliary, America’s Boating Club, or a Recreational Boating Safety Program Partner.
Accidents always come unexpectedly as we all realize. There are many elements of boating safety but not all components are equal in benefit, some even unintentionally regarded with complacency. The most critical aspect, and also the easiest to apply, is properly wearing a life jacket. Please prepare for the possibility of needing the extra buoyancy when something happens and that moment arrives.
Maybe the old saying of “Whatever Floats Your Boat” needs to be edited to read: “Whatever floats YOU and your boat.”