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Seeking friends with boats

OPINION

(Chicago Tribune file photo )
August 18, 2013|By Annie Reed, @annie_e_313 | For RedEye

The only thing better than owning a boat is having a friend with a boat. At least that's what my friend Frank, who owns several boats, says. According to him, "boat" is just an acronym for "Bust Out Another Thousand"—because that's the least it will cost you every time something goes wrong. Frank likes to complain.

If we take Frank literally, that leaves the rest of us in the non-boat owning class on a quest for these elusive Friends With Boats. This column is dedicated to helping you get out on that crystal blue water before the end of the boating season, one damn way or another.

1. Be an extremely attractive young lady with hot friends and zero dignity

Frank tells me this is the only guaranteed way to get on a boat. Really, just go down to your local harbor in a bikini and wait for an invite. You don't need my help. You may need condoms, FYI.

Ugh, boat people.

What? You have more dignity than that? Read on.

2. Take a sailing class

Taking a sailing class has a three-pronged benefit. First, the lessons themselves get you out on the water. Second, you run the chance of meeting FWSBs (Friends With Sailboats), particularly if you take a group class through a not-for-profit like Sail Chicago. Third, FWSBs often SEEK OUT people who know how to sail when they are taking the boat out.. A member of my all-lesbian softball team was casually complaining about her yacht club, which caused my ears to perk up. When I began soliciting an invite, she misinterpreted my eagerness for knowledge of sailing, and swiftly invited me aboard. Apparently sailors are hard to find. When I regrettably informed her I know nothing about sailing but am good at following directions, she allowed the invite to stand. So the lesson here is learn how to sail, or y'know, just fake it.

3. Get a boss with a boat

You know that awkward part of a job interview where they ask if you have any questions, but all your prepared questions have already been covered? What you should really be asking is whether any of the bosses own boats. Oh they do? Very nice. And do you go on firm boat outings? These are important issues when you are making an employment decision. Do you want your job perks to be nights at a Sox game or nights on a yacht with Captain Tony mixing you scotch drinks while you watch the sun set after dinner at the yacht club? Did I mention I love my boss?

4. Be classy, fool

If you find an FWB and you get an invite onto said boat, for the love of god show up. Taking a boat out is a lot of work, something Frank reminds me of every time he takes me out on his boat. As a guest, you have two jobs. First, bring something nice to drink. Every aspect of owning a boat is expensive—from storage to gas. Forgo the case of PBR for a handle of your host's favorite booze, and don't forget the mixers! There are no gas stations on the lake to grab them. Second, be ready to help in any way. Read that, don't get too drunk to follow basic commands. When your friend asks you to put the fender out, don't fall off the boat. You want to get invited back, right?

Annie Reed is a RedEye special contributor.

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