With the Seattle Boat Show upon us, it’s a great chance to channel our new-to-boat-life selves. It can inspire and encourage others.

When the Seattle Boat Show rolls around, the boating community collectively thinks more about those just beginning their waterborne journeys in the Pacific Northwest than at any other time of year. Sure, old salts love the show, too, for its deals, its cool new tech, and its homecoming reunion vibes. Still, who doesn’t remember their first boat show? Who didn’t stroll those red carpets and feel equal parts: “This is for me!” and “How will I ever…? Know enough? Afford any of this? Be ready to take the leap?” It’s as wonderful as it is initially daunting.

That’s where experienced boaters come in. Every person who is already embedded in the sailing, cruising, paddling, and boating communities is a walking, talking embodiment of the reality that it is possible. We come from a wide array of backgrounds. Though we share similar passions, we have diverse interests, lifestyles, and motivations. Our boats are all along the spectrum of size, cost, and design, not to mention mode of propulsion. We are those starry-eyed daydreamers walking around with a bag positively bursting with brochures… just a few years or decades in the future.

The boat show illuminates the fact that each of us can be catalysts for the next generation of boat folk. I’ve often urged our readers to bring a friend to the show or out with you on your boat. Or both. Really, it’s even more than that, and the boat show demonstrates that the tent is so much bigger than anyone’s circle of friends.

We who already live our personalized versions of boat life can provide inspiration, simply by representing the possibilities. And by adding even a few words of encouragement for someone considering, or venturing into, life afloat; by sharing in their infectious enthusiasm; or by laying the groundwork for a friendship that might include some gentle, thoughtful mentoring as dockmates or buddy boats—we fan the flames of zeal and smooth the waters for their passage to broad boaty horizons.

This kind of thing happens all the time among mariners already. Support, education, inspiration, mentorship, and genuine fun are tenets of the boating culture and communities of the Salish Sea and other Pacific Northwest waterways. The boat show reminds me, however, that there’s always a new group of promising future seafarers thinking about stepping aboard for the first time to chase that dream.

In that way, it’s exactly like homecoming at school. There’s the carefree set of more experienced, more established people at the center of it all; and each year, there’s a new class of first-year students, clustered on the fringes, wondering if they’ll ever feel anything but unfamiliar and unconnected. They will. You will.

When this magazine comes out, the industry portion of the establishment will be moving boats and brochures into the Lumen Field Event Center and Bell Harbor Marina, along with wares from watermakers to wakeboards. Soon after, the community establishment will make their annual pilgrimage to the show. As we do so, let’s find ways to share the love with the next generation. Boat life is the best life. Pass it on.

Please come visit with us at the Seattle Boat Show!