Dock Street Marina, Tacoma: cool and overcast but comfortable. It was a Saturday morning in June, and we were hanging out with Mark Helgen, VP of Lake Union Sea Ray, in the cockpit of a 460 Sundancer. Looking around at the assembled fleet, he pointed out a range of vessels, from a 24-foot cruiser up to sport yachts over 50 feet.
It was time to shoot the final video in our cruising series, so we let Mark finish his coffee and then turned on our camera and asked why the dealership staged events like this. He explained that they do several rendezvous events each year, and their goal is to encourage owners to go further afield, get to know each other, and enjoy all the benefits of the cruising lifestyle. With that, we gathered our gear and headed down the dock to see what the boat owners had to say about the experience.
Like any good cruise, this rendezvous was light on agenda and long on unstructured time. Cruisers visited the Chihuly Museum of Glass, right at the water’s edge, and some took the trolley up to America’s Car Museum, half a mile away. Others were drawn to the mix of shops, restaurants, and other museums that dot the waterfront area.
Some folks took out the kayaks available at the marina to get a water view of the city, and few turned down the mimosas that the marina kindly served at the bottom of the ramp. But more than anything, the cruisers enjoyed hanging out with each other on their boats and along the docks.
When we asked people why they liked to cruise, we received answers ranging from “family time” to “freedom from the stress of our daily lives” to the chance to “enjoy being together and meeting others.”
Some of the folks we met had been cruising together for 20 years and watched their families grow up on their trips. They meet off the water as well as on, and have become close friends. But that didn’t seem to make it hard for new cruisers to join. As one who was relatively new to his larger cruising boat, Neil Nylander said, “Fifteen minutes after we tied up here, we’re hanging out with eight individuals and we’re just part of the gang.”
Helgen summed it up for us: “The No. 1 reason people cruise is to enjoy a whole different atmosphere for themselves and their families and to be able to socialize with like-minded friends. It really is a different experience.”
Editor's Note: This video is the third in a three-part series, beginning with The Mission - Cruising with Lake Union Sea Ray, part 1 and The Journey - Cruising with Lake Union Sea Ray, part 2. Promotional consideration for this article was provided by Lake Union Sea Ray.