In a typical year, Amanda and Don Gardner of Cape Coral, Fla., participate in 10 to 15 organized high-performance boating events. This year, they’ve done five. And with COVID-19 hanging on like a gluttonous, uninvited houseguest, their prospects for more group happenings this year aren’t looking great.
Amanda and Don Gardner live and love to be on the water together. Image from the 2017 Sarasota New Year’s Eve Photo Shoot by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
But as much as the Gardners cherish group activities with friends on the water, event cancellations haven’t destroyed their boating season. Their love for being on the water as a couple is only overshadowed—and obviously so—by their love for one another.
“We still live by our motto: ‘If we can’t get there by boat, we simply just don’t go,’” Amanda said.
Of course, living in Southwest Florida the Gardners have nearly unlimited options for travel by water. Every Friday evening after work—unless the weather changes their plans—they head out for a date-night cruise in their 32-foot Active Thunder center console.
“Fridays are date nights where we listen to music, bring a cooler and canal hop at idle speed in our center console,” Amanda added.
On Saturdays, their outings on the water are more social and they usually run their 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran. But their destinations have become more scenic and less confined..
A truly joyful couple, the Gardners currently are looking for a third boat.
“Saturdays have been different with COVID-19,” Amanda said. “Instead of lunch at a waterfront bar listening to live music, we are meeting up with friends at a local beach or sandbar and packing lunch for the day—and using a lot more sunblock these days.
“Sundays have become a new boating day when we feel our weekends went by too fast,” she continued. “It is that extra day to relax and anchor out in the Gulf for a little swim and relaxation.”
Organized events such as those produced by Fort Myers Offshore and the Florida Powerboat Club are reunions for the Gardners, and they miss that aspect of their go-fast boating lives. However, they’re still enjoying their weekend routine.
“Do we miss organized events?” asked Amanda, who is an FMO board member. “Absolutely. Thanks to those events, we have met some amazing friends located all over the country. We typically do not see those friends on a normal basis, so we use these events to catch and create memories. A few of these friends have now become more like family.”
Amanda Gardner: “We are using a lot more sunblock these days.” Image from the 2018 Sarasota New Year’s Eve Photo Shoot by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.