Tips for protecting your night
vision. See this story online,
Brilhart has done a lot of boating. He’s 82
years old and he had just left a marina where
the experience of older boaters is celebrated
and accommodations are made to keep them
on the water as long as possible. Fishermen’s
Village Marina, on Charlotte Harbor in historic Punta Gorda, draws cruisers and liveaboards with its robust shore facilities and
broad, well-kept concrete docks. But the
111-slip marina has other amenities that
aren’t as widely touted.
Although the tidal range is just over a
foot, two of the fixed concrete piers feature
floating docks connected by ramps. These
are a blessing for boaters with bad hips,
or for someone who has had knee surgery
or is using a cane. The marina allows boat
owners to install grab rails on pilings, or set
ladders on finger piers, to make access even
easier. That’s appreciated in a marina where
the typical boat is a 40-foot cabin cruiser.
Dockhands meet and assist every vessel
that enters the yacht basin, and their presence can make all the difference. Eighty-five
percent of the marina’s seasonal guests are
older than 60.
“The issue of getting on and off the boat
is a challenge for some people,” says Jim
Branch, harbormaster at Fishermen’s Village.
“It’s pretty much the determining factor for
how long people stay on the boat. If they have
difficulty, they may move out of boating.”
SUNSHINE STATE LEADS THE WAY
This isn’t a surprise in Charlotte County,
where Fishermen’s Village is located. More
than one-third of the population is over 65,
giving the area one of the highest median
ages in the country. It’s also generally true of
Florida, a mecca for both seniors and boaters.
What may be surprising, though, is how this
scene foreshadows the future of recreational
boating in America, and how it meets the
challenge to keep boaters such as Dick and
Barbara Brilhart at the helm.
By 2030, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates one in five Americans will be 65 or
older. The baby boomers driving this trend are
well-known for their determination to sail off
into the setting sun, figuratively, and in this
case, literally, but there are some hurdles –
physical and mental – to be overcome. People
60 or older typically need more than twice
as much light to see under dim conditions
as a 20-year-old. Past age 50, high-frequency
sounds can drop, and more time is needed to
react to stimuli.
These shortcomings are widely recognized behind the wheel of a car; and on
a boat, we can toss balance into the mix,
The dinghy dock at Fishermen’s Village
Marina, Punta Gorda, Florida. Below, Mark
Vance, aboard his 27-foot Snapdragon
sailboat, Arwen, says he intends to use his
boat as long as he can walk.