Why I Love Chartering

Christine Smith looks back at another season of charter guests.

David B guests
Christine Smith

Our seventh season of running the David B as a charter boat has just come to a close. At this time every year, we look back in amazement at how wonderful all of our guests have been. It contradicts a comment from one of our very first guests, an Australian whose laughing accented voice still rings in my head, "You guys are great but why would you want to do this? The cruising public is atrocious!" I remember wondering to myself, is it possible we are setting ourselves up for a career of dealing with crummy people?

The cruising public can be atrocious. I've certainly seen samples of poor behavior in cruise ship towns. But I've learned that people, when given a place to be respected and listened to, are truly interesting and far from appalling. What I've found from seven years of inviting strangers aboard the David B is that people are good-natured. They are interesting, fun, and enjoyable to be around. I've also gained a lot from our guests, whether they are winemakers or homemakers.

Activities like boating bring people together. I like boats because they are generally small and only carry only a few people. When I share a meal on board or hike along a remote beach with my guests, the lines and boundaries that we create for ourselves blur. When I’m standing on deck watching humpback whales feeding or glaciers calve, it doesn’t matter the political party, religion, race, or sexual orientation of the people enjoying that instant of time with me. What matters is that as a group we are sharing the experience of living life at that moment.

On our last day of the season it rained a lot. We could have complained about the weather, but no one did. Half of our guests curled up with books or art projects by the cozy wood cook stove while the David B rode at anchor, swinging gently in the breeze and rain. The rest of us suited up for a kayak paddle around Garrison and Westcott Bays at San Juan Island. It was pure fun and the rain and wind made it more so. We laughed and talked as we looked for birds and seals. We were soaking wet when we returned to the boat. Two days earlier these guests didn't know me or one another, but after sharing a weekend's worth of experiences I longed for each one of them to come back.

Later in the day we returned to our slip and after our guests left, we sat down at the galley table with a bottle of red wine. “So, Jeffrey,” I said. “Here’s to another year, and to all of our guests. Again this year, no one was atrocious.” We clinked glasses and drank to the end of the season.