Slow Down – You Move to Fast
Simon and Garfunkel’s lyrics “Slow down you move to fast, you’ve got to make the moment last..” has been playing over and over in my head the last few days. I often get this song bomb when I’m feeling rushed or panicked for time. I like those words since they help me to remember to take a breath, pause, and soak up the world around me.
This time of year I spend a lot of time, maybe even too much time, obsessing about how to get people to choose to take their vacations on the David B. I pay attention to what potential passengers are saying, and what ads from other types of tour providers show. The thing I see the most is speed: the drive to maximize the time you have away from work — to fill every moment with heart pounding adrenaline — to see it all in just a few days.
How can anyone ever relax, refresh, or renew themselves at this pace? I don’t know. What I do know is that the types of tours Jeffrey and I provide on the David B are the essence of slowing down and making the moment last. The David B is a slow boat. We have a top cruising speed of 6.5 knots or about 7.5 miles per hour. (That’s compared to the 17-22 knots of a cruise ship.) When we are underway and motoring through the narrow tree-lined channels of the Inside Passage at slow speed, we have more time to observe. We often spot bears on beaches, or eagles sitting high up in trees. When evening comes, we pull in to a new anchorage, drop the hook, and turn off the engine. It’s silent with the exception of the trickle of streams, and songs or calls of birds.
When someone signs up for one of our cruises I put myself into their shoes and try to come up with the perfect plan. I think about what I’ve learned about them from emails and conversations, and how I can help them slow down and enjoy the moment. When was the last time my guests took a vacation to relax? How do our passengers gear their time away from work? Do they maximize every moment so they don’t miss a thing? What’s it like for them when Jeffrey and I take care of all the details — the meals, the anchorages, the activities?
I think about these things a lot. While I love the speed of technology and I sometimes like to be somewhere in a hurry. I don’t like to see people rush through their valuable time off. When I think of travel, I envision going to a place to explore, to see, to learn, to slow down, to enjoy the feeling of being in the now. Slow travel is what we offer. It’s the pause between the breath. It’s the chance to inhale the earthy scent of the muskeg, or the brininess of the sea. When I hear of people wanting to see Alaska in a few days or think that they are experiencing the Inside Passage when they book a cruise on one of the big cruise ships that steams through the night, I wonder if they know what they are missing.
I know the David B’s not for everyone. Our trips are for people who want more than to simply check a place off of their list of Must-Sees. The David B is for people who don’t want a vacation full of bright lights, public address systems, crowded dining rooms, and dance clubs. It’s for people who want nature and conversation over a good meal. It’s for people who want to make their moments last.
Last year we chose an anchorage in Johnstone Strait not too far from Seymour Narrows. Slack water was going to to take place at Seymour near sunset. The narrows are a place where boats need to time their passage because of fast currents. For most of the day, we had been listening to traffic and knew where the cruise ships where and what times they were planning to be at Seymour. While they were spending the day steaming to be on time, we spent the day cruising. Twice we stopped to watch orca whales, and once we had pacific white-sided dolphins surf our bow before stopping for the night.
That evening I served dinner while the sky turned pink. Our little anchorage was quiet as we talked with our guests about the whales we had seen and what our plan for the next day would include. While we ate, the first cruise ship passed by. They were making their way for Seattle and would be there the next day. We still had four more days to make it to Bellingham. As the ship sped past, we stopped our conversation and watched. We paused and took in the moment, and were awed by the ship (it’s hard not to be). As the sounds of the ship’s engines and public address system faded, someone voiced how lucky we were to be on the slow boat to Bellingham.