As much as we would all like to return to a “normal life” or at least life before Covid-19, we know that we still have a ways to go. How long we will need to be mindful of large crowds and continue to practice social distancing, is anybody’s guess. The good news is, boating in North America is pretty much open and is really the ideal activity to avoid large crowds and have fun at the same time.
Today, we catch up with Bob Reed of St. Clair Sailboat Center to hear a little bit about how he’s fairing in these somewhat turbulent waters.
PF: So Bob, before we talk about anything too specific as it relates to the current state of affairs, tell us a little about St. Clair Sailboat Sales including your location and what’s special about it?
BR: St. Clair Sailboat Center is located at the Jefferson Beach Marina in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. We are about 13 miles Northeast of Detroit on Lake St. Clair. There’s plenty of good daysailing to be had on Lake St. Clair and for anyone interested in going cruising, it’s an easy trip up the St. Clair River to Lake Huron and then to the magnificent North Channel.
PF: You’ve been in the boating business for quite some time and been a Jeanneau Dealer since something like 1995, so what’s the situation today in your world in these unexpected and strange times?
BR: The current business situation is the I’m able to operate at about 90% of a normal business day. I answer numerous email inquiries, show boats responsibly; distanced with a mask, launch, rig, and instruct my new owners, with similar protection. I feel blessed to be able to maintain some continuity to life before Covid-19. There is a considerable amount of hesitancy with customers on the sales side, but we have weathered that mindset through numerous external events and know that sooner or later people want to be on the water and get on with life. Having been in the sailboat business for 48 years in Detroit, I’m very accustomed to big economic swings. Eventually, we’ll get through this, I can see better days ahead.
PF: It’s been said that boating, lends itself to a normal form of social distancing, that it’s “built in.” What’s your thoughts on this idea?
BR: I think this is right on the money! This is why people buy boats in the first place, it gives them the opportunity to get away from their everyday world and spend some quality time with the people they love the most. As I tell people now, the safest place on the planet today is on your boat with your family!!!
PF: At the end of the day, we’ll get through this and life will eventually return to some form of normality. In what ways do you think boating will help people find “true north” and their way forward?
BR: I was moving a new Jeanneau 389 out to the rigging area last week. It was such a pleasure to run a new boat again, and a reminder at what a great job Jeanneau does. I had the new owners join me for the ride and they were just blown away at how quiet and smooth the boat steered and ran.
But the best part was to share that excitement of a new boat with folks that I started in sailing, in 1985 with a 25 footer. If this current virus has done anything, it has taught us to recalibrate and enjoy life in the moments that we have. And the roll we play in this, is very gratifying, to bring a bit of joy to a trying situation.