Skip to content

One Donut Boat’s Story

Above photo by Mike Ferring.

By Joanne Aspinall and Mike Ferring. All photos by Mike (aboard the mark-set boat) and Joanne (aboard a Donut Boat). Joanne provided the creative donut boat perspective, and Mike provided the context at the beginning and end.


Just as races were about to begin on April 10th’s windy afternoon, a trio of those cute “Donut Boats” frittered through the start line and past the waiting fleets. You know, they’re the round rental boats with the orange umbrella tops. One of them was clearly taken by the scene and wrote up this diary entry.

Dear Diary: Today was a good day.

Now, you know that I don’t often complain about my life as a donut boat at Tempe Town Lake. It’s great that I get to meet lots of new people, listen to cool music, and, hey, I get to spend all day on the water – I’m living the good life! But some days, especially windy days like today, I like to dream…

I dream of being a sailboat. I know, crazy, huh? I once told my dream to the other donut boats at the lake, but they laughed when I said my orange umbrella could be a sail. They said I wouldn’t be accepted by the sailors on their sleek Lasers and Sunfish. They said I was too fat and circular, and I should just keep to my own kind. So, I’ve kept my dream to myself, and admired the sailboats from afar.

My favorite day is Sunday. A bunch of sailboats come out to race. They are beautiful! They are competitive, but also seem to have a good time. They do tend to get a little annoyed when my driver gets in the way of the race. But I know they’re not annoyed at me; it’s not my fault. They sometimes wave, but usually just sail on by without paying much notice to me.

But today was different.

My 2pm passengers were special. I could tell right away that I was in good hands by the way my driver drove the boat. She called herself the “Commodore.” The passengers talked about sailing like they knew something about it. And sure enough, when we went by the sailors, they didn’t just wave at us, they smiled and talked to us! My kid passengers blew bubbles at them and the adults called the sailors by name! Even the Laser and Sunfish boats themselves seemed to wink at me in the sunshine; it was like I was one of them for the day!

Alas, it was too windy and my handlers made my passengers go back to the dock early and my passengers had to depart. But those sailors kept sailing! And man, did they go fast! From my dock I could see a few of them capsize, but they got right back up. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful sight to see!

Hopefully they come back soon. In the meantime, I’ll keep my dream of sailing alive, and, as the Jimmy Buffett song goes, “Someday I Will”!

That’s it. And even through our Donut is right about the sailors flipping their boats, most of the time they just zoomed around the lake, happy to have some wind. The Laser fleet was surprisingly thin (just four boats) since they tend to be the daredevils of the lake. But the Sunfish fleet was out in force, led by Jen Lee, frequently flying well out in front of the rest. And the 14.2 fleet clustered around the flag pole, watching the action as race committee.