Doctors living in a highly stressed world need to find ways to decompress and relax. Like many other pressurized professions, from lawyers to school crossing guards, everyone needs a release and I have one word for all of you: boats.
Big or little, power or sail, fast or slow, we can all learn from Mole in Wind in the Willows: “There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats
Everyone chills out in different ways but, whether your wish is complete idleness or flying spray, entertaining friends or hooking fish, there is a boat that will make the work week of telephones and meetings disappear like early morning mist. Tampa is blessed with a wonderful world of water to explore and savor, so let’s look at six boats perfect for unwinding.
If Huck Finn lazing on the water appeals, the Starcraft CX 25 DL Bar is your raft. Just the word “Bar” suggests entertaining, and that’s where this 26-ft. pontoon boat excels, with couch seating fore and aft, plus a dedicated bar with stools just forward of the outboard (to 350hp). The bar converts to a huge sunpad when needed, high rails all around provide kid safety, recliner swivel seats are for all-day comfort, and a Bimini top offers sun protection. Rollin’ down the river!
Want some thrilling mixed with your chilling? My old pal, surfer Hobie Alter, has built more than 135,000 of the Hobie 16 beach catamarans and there’s a reason for this success: it’s fun! Easy to handle, you can choose to loaf along or, with a breeze, savor a screaming ride across the bay, spray flying. Hobie racing is worldwide, including Tampa Bay, and you can work out your aggressions on the race course. Twin fiberglass hulls, easy-to-handle sails, and a big comfy trampoline for sprawling help make this the most popular beach cat ever.
Have some Izaak Walton in your bloodstream and want to stalk fish? The Beneteau Flyer 9 Spacedeck is a center console that allows anglers to walk completely around the helm area without tangling lines, and twin outboards (50mph plus) can push you to distant offshore fishing grounds. A fold-down side platform is perfect for skindivers and, even better, the Flyer 9 is family-friendly with a cabin that sleeps 4 (perfect for kid’s naps) and an enclosed head.
If you want to be in the water as much as on the water, then the Cobalt R8 Surf is for you. This 27-footer looks like a bowrider with forward seating, but it features ballast tanks, a forward-facing Volvo sterndrive for safety, and the Cobalt Surf Gate that allows you to create custom-shaped waves for surfing the wake. Break out your boards or water toys, and you can spend the day on the water lounging, surfing, and waterskiing (or more lounging). A powered stern step makes getting out of the water easy and, for the sedentary, the cockpit seatback flips to create a spacious sunpad.
If it’s speed that lights your fire, the name Pantera is legendary. A survivor from the offshore racing days of the ‘60s, the Pantera Classic 24 has an Ilmor 570hp V8 from NASCAR racing that nails the speedo in the 80mph range. But the deeply-veed hull makes for a soft ride offshore in chop at whatever speed. High-backed racing bucket seats for driver and companion are mounted on shock absorbers, the wood-rimmed wheel is behind a low curved windscreen, and the teak deck over the engines is a class act. Grab your Miami Vice sport coat, push up the sleeves, pull on the Ray-Bans, and put the hammer down!
Chris-Craft is another legendary name with Florida roots, and their latest, the Calypso 32, is an all-purpose boat for Tampa boating families. There is spacious (but safely deep) bow seating (convertible to a sunpad), a walk-through windshield to make access easy, and a fiberglass hardtop to keep the sun at bay. Skipper and companion get swivel pedestal chairs, and the seating in the cockpit morphs from seats to lounges, with an easily stowed table for munchies. Twin outboards (400hp each are available) push the Calypso to 55mph and give the oomph to yank skiers or inflatable water toys with ease.
Isak Dinesen, the author of Out of Africa, nailed it when she said, “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” Forget the sweat and tears, head out on Tampa Bay, and let your cares and tensions wash away.
Chris Caswell is an award-winning writer and the former editor of several yachting magazines. He has appeared on Oprah as a boating lifestyle expert and hosted the Marine Voyager series on the Speed Channel.