The Gift of Time

Several years ago, my dad forwarded an email of a story about two friends. They had known each other for years, but never found enough time to get together, re-bond and enjoy one another’s company. One friend decided to change that and called his friend to say he’d be visiting and giving him the gift of time.

Maybe my dad was sending me a not so subtle message, or maybe he was sharing a story that had an impact on him. Either way, it hit right at the heart strings.

Boating with Dad — The Gift of Time

Every summer, my duties to update the Waggoner Cruising Guide keep my very busy. I do not have a lot of time as I need to visit as many places as I can in three months on the water. After reading the story my father sent me, I paused. Growing up Dad was busy with his career and raising five kids, but he had always made time for Boy Scout trips and driving me on my paper route on a rainy or snowy day. He always gave me the gift of his time. Now, at this stage of his life, his bank of time is moving towards an uncertain end, and there may not be many more days I will be able to give the same gift back.

I called him the next day. “Dad- I would like to give you a gift of my time and share something very special – The Inside Passage and Northern BC.”

Dad cleared his calendar. I immediately started the arrangements for Dad to join me on the boat.

Two weeks later, I flew home to Anacortes, leaving my boat tied to the dock in Port McNeill, B.C. Dad flew up from his home in San Jose, and we both headed for Kenmore Air. I made sure we were first in line to board the DeHavilland Turbo Beaver so Dad could sit in the co-pilot’s seat and get the full experience of seeing the Inside Passage from 1,500 feet. When we finally landed in Port McNeill, after multiple stops and take-offs and landings along the way, he was grinning from ear to ear.

We moved onto the boat. Dad took the berth in the salon―much easier for an 84-year-old to get around. For several days, the weather was marginal, and we toured the area by land, graciously accepting an offer from Bruce Jackman, from North Island Marina, to see the tribal sites in Fort Rupert and visit Port Hardy in his Porsche Carrera convertible. I have to admit; it was pretty special to tour the area with the top down and Dad in the passenger seat.

When the seas calmed down, we headed north in the fog using radar. The weather cleared into beautiful sunshine. We crossed Cape Caution and into the waters of Northern BC to Pruth Bay.


We spotted whales in Fitz Hugh Sound. We visited the ghost town of Ocean Falls, and Dad got a kick out of Norman’s Museum, full of stuff from the 50’s and 60’s. The crabbing was good in the bay at Ocean Falls, and Dad tasted the freshest Dungeness crab he had ever had.

The weather continued to improve with sunny days as we cruised through Gun Boat Passage to Shearwater. On the Tolly’s flybridge, Dad looked at me and said, “Mark, this is truly amazing. I had no idea this was all this beautiful. Thank you.”

That was the moment I realized time is THE most valuable thing we have. It is irreplaceable and fleeting; we age and our bank of time diminishes. We can’t replenish it. We can’t buy more time. And, we don’t know when our bank of time, or the reserve of others, will end.

We rode through the rest of the passage in silence, letting those moments of time slide by surrounded by such magnificence.

After a day in Shearwater, our time was up. We took the boat over to Bella Bella and dad got on the shuttle van to the airport. As I headed down the channel,  I watched his plane take off and soar overhead knowing our time on the boat had been something special for both of us, an irreplaceable experience. It felt good to share the Inside Passage experience with my dad and know he has a full appreciation of his son’s very unusual career choice and the many friends up and down the coast.


The Gift of Time

The Gift of Time

Fast forward to 2015, my ambitious daughter hired herself to be First Mate on my Waggoner Flotilla Group trip to the Broughtons. I was flattered and pleased that my 17-year-old daughter wanted to be with her dad for three weeks on the boat, instead of hanging out with her friends, and in many places not have the ability to email or text.

About a week before departure, my nephew, a videographer, director, and recent graduate from Penn State, decided to join us. All three of us had a great time with the flotilla group. We showed them some of the best marinas and anchorages in the Broughtons. We caught a lot of salmon and had a lot of fun. Most importantly, we enjoyed our time together.

Now that my daughter is entering her college years, I am not sure when she will ever have three weeks of time to spend with her dad again. Her life will soon be filled with studies, new friendships, and her career, and at some point, mostly likely a family of her own. What she might not have realized is that she gave me the gift of fleeting and irreplaceable time, which happened to fall on Father’s Day last year.

A moment in time neither of us will ever forget.

As Father’s Day approaches reconsider the time you have and how you spend it. Take your dad boating. Take your kids boating – even if they are now big kids. The gift you give will be a gift for both of you.


Happy Father’s Day!


Mark Bunzel

Mark Bunzel is the Editor and Publisher of the Waggoner Cruising Guide, an annual cruising guide covering all the great marinas and anchorages in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia Coast, from Olympia to Ketchikan.

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