Archived Story

Detour sign ahead

Published 8:44pm Monday, January 7, 2013

The City of Washington recently released a plan that will focus on drawing more recreational boaters to Washington by improving the amenities already on the Washington waterfront.
According to some of our Sound Off callers, there are those who object to such a plan, seeing no call to specifically cater to recreational boaters. The city, instead, needs to cater to helping downtown businesses, they say.
A thriving downtown Washington would benefit many: the city, the shoppers, the business owners and their employees.
But the city is not wrong to update the waterfront facilities — not wrong at all. In fact, the city council will be helping downtown businesses by doing so.
Twice a year, outside of any summertime recreational boating traffic, a unique set of consumers can be found on the Washington waterfront. It happens in April/May and again in November/December. These people are making the transit from north to south as winter nears and south to north as summer approaches. Sometimes they may be docked on the waterfront for a few days, sometimes a month, because the timing of journeys is largely based on the strictures of their boat’s insurance and the “weather window” — a period of good weather that will allow enough time to get to their next destination.
What do we know about these people? The obvious: they can afford to spend the majority of their time doing what they love, which means that they 1) likely don’t work and 2) have enough money set aside to maintain the lifestyle. In other words, they have money to spend along the waterfronts of places they dock for a few days on trips north and south. That money, in Washington, goes to retail stores and especially to restaurants; it gets spent on marine supplies and groceries.
So why shouldn’t we try to make the Washington waterfront amenable to those who visit by boat? Those who dock here travel many miles from the Intracoastal Waterway to get to Washington. They talk. They trade stories with other travelers all season long. And if Washington has a reputation for making a boater’s stay pleasant by providing the basics of showers and laundry facilities, then more will think the detour to Washington worth it.
We already know the detour is worth it. Let’s let everyone else know, too.

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