“I love my boat,” Bob Owings begins, “and I can tell you many reasons why it’s so special to me.” As a proud husband and father of three emerging adults, owner of a bustling family business, active church and community volunteer, and avid U.S. and world traveler, Bob’s life is pretty scheduled most of the time. “My boat brings people together and automatically relaxes everyone. That’s a natural gift of being on the water. The boat is its own vessel, separate from everything else that binds me to a structure in my life. It gives me a chance to ‘leave the dock’ in more ways than one.”
Bob grew up with boats. In his younger years, he treasured more active times on the water, skiing, hanging out with his friends — just being loud and rambunctious. “Those weren’t relaxing times on the water. We were working hard to have our fun,” Bob says. As he grew older, what he wanted from his boat changed. “I remember when our kids were younger, aged 8 to 17, and we’d have such wonderful times. There was no internet back then. We gave each other our full attention when we were on the river.”
The boat brings people together and automatically relaxes everyone.”
About five years ago, Bob was able to purchase a boat built for entertaining and spending time with friends. He brought it to Louisville from the Gulf of Mexico, taking five weekend trips to do it. During that time, he traveled through 22 sets of locks and learned quickly he would have no control over how long the journey took. “We had to accept that we didn’t determine the timeline for this trip. That slow pace and steadiness brought me a great deal of peace and perspective,” Bob says.
Bob and his wife Michelle will often head to the boat for overnight or weekend stays. He invites his staff on board for retreats where they can get away from office interruptions. Recently, Owings Patterns moved to a different office building. “I should have been home each night answering phones and working on that project, but I went to the boat each evening instead. It took all the stress off me so I was ready for the next day,” Bob says.
Bob loves early mornings when he awakens to watch the dew rise off the water. “There is such peace. It’s an amazing time that no one else really knows about,” he says. Although they live in Southern Indiana, Bob and Michelle can be at the dock in Louisville in 22 minutes. Sometimes they’re on their own; sometimes they invite friends. But always, they want to enjoy a lovely dinner and then see the sun go down. “We travel all the time, but Louisville sunsets are best. They are truly second to none,” Bob says.
Bob wouldn’t have his boat anywhere other than the river. “You either love the river or you don’t understand it. And if you don’t understand it, you don’t appreciate it. On the river, in my boat, I find nothing but peace and contentment, whether alone or with friends. It’s a true spiritual connection.”
By Megan S. Willman | Photos by Erika Doll
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