Stress Relief in Coeur D’Alene

Gazing upon an idyllic Idaho resort town aboard their 270 Sundancer, the Feelys forget all their anxieties.

Barry Feely knows all about stress. The 63-year-old pharmacy owner has filled a boatload of prescriptions throughout the past 40 years to help people cope with a myriad of stress-related disorders. When it comes to stress management, however, Barry may actually be on the vanguard of an unorthodox form of treatment. Doctors don’t prescribe it; medical journals won’t recommend it; surveys and reports on the subject omit it entirely. For Barry Feely, stress-relief comes in the form of a Sea Ray 270 Sundancer.

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Crusing in their 270 Sundancer, the cares of the world slip away. The Feelys felt opportunity knocking at the Spokane Boat Show, and have enjoyed the Sea Ray lifestyle heartily ever since.

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“It’s a great way to get away from the day-to-day grind, responsibilities and stress of the business. It’s simply a great way to relax,” explains Barry with a warm smile that instantly adds credence to his claim.

Barry’s wife, Jan, could not agree more. Her love of the boating lifestyle radiates as she describes spending time aboard their Sundancer cruising, overnighting, entertaining or simply sipping a glass of red wine dockside, as they watch the sun set from the stern of the boat.

It is like a drug, and both agree that heavy doses seem to work best.

Any trepidations about having an extra passenger tag along for a day of boating wane quickly as Barry pilots the Sea Ray past the Silver Beach Marina no-wake zone toward the familiar open waters of beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, population 44,962, is home for the Feelys, and the 25-mile long lake is their backyard. Barry, a native, spent his youth in this aquatic playground.

“My dad always had a boat for daylong outings spent fishing for bluebacks, as well as weekend trips to my uncle’s place on Beauty Bay where we’d swim and ski,” recalls Barry. “He taught me to operate the boat at an early age, so that I could pull him skiing.”

Smart man, Barry’s dad: bond with your son and simultaneously guarantee yourself a tow. That also explains Barry’s natural comfort behind the wheel of his 28-foot Sea Ray. Boating is second nature to him.

Jan, though not a native, has lived in Coeur d’Alene since she was 13. Like Barry, she spent much of her youth on the water. So it comes as no surprise that once she married Barry and subsequently bore five delightful children, they too would grow up frolicking in the waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Little wonder that the Feelys exhibit a relaxed aura as they take to the water. They’re comfortable here and it shows. Who wouldn’t be?

Tucked away in northern Idaho’s skinny panhandle and nuzzled up close to Washington, Montana and Canada (you could feasibly drive into to all four in one day), Coeur d’Alene is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most stunning destinations. Heavily forested evergreen hills surround most of the lake, adding to its wild grandeur. Although a resort community, the city maintains a laidback rustic charm that is very inviting.

The five-star Coeur d’Alene Resort located on the lake’s north shore serves as the city’s major landmark. Its attractive alpine-style hotel towers 18 stories above the lake and houses several shops, restaurants and lounge areas. One side of the hotel overlooks the lake and a ¾-mile floating boardwalk enveloping a 371-slip marina, while the other side opens to the city’s quaint downtown area with a host of cafes, bistros and shops. Nearby is a luxury spa and beautiful 18-hole golf course renowned for its floating green.

“The resort is our favorite place for entertainment,” says Barry, who pilots the Sea Ray beneath the walkway’s bridge for a close-up view of the impressive facility.

I learned that the Feelys have several “favorite” places on Lake Coeur d’Alene. While the resort is their favorite place for entertainment, the Cedars Floating Restaurant is their favorite place to dine. Located at the northwest tip of the lake where its waters flow into the Spokane River, the Cedars is a bouyant restaurant that caters heavily to boaters with its spacious docks and quality fare with specialties like cedar plank salmon and Biergarten filet mignon. “But our favorite place on the entire lake is Beauty Bay,” Jan says with a hint of enthusiasm.

While most of the lake’s northern shoreline is developed with homes in idyllic settings, Beauty Bay remains largely untouched. It is nature in the raw. Peaceful. Tranquil. Stress-free. It is in this area that landlocked kokanee salmon come to spawn every winter. And, like clockwork, bald eagles arrive on their annual migration from Canada, stopping here to feast on one of their favorite delicacies. Like the salmon and eagles, Barry and Jan feel drawn to Beauty Bay too.

Boating has been an intrinsic part of the Feelys’ life as long as they can remember but, like a tree adapting to the seasons, their boating style has changed over time. They started out with a series of PWCs. Their first family boat was a 10-year-old 20-foot Wellcraft bought in 1995. Two years later they traded it in for a 19-foot Cobalt sportboat. Both boats served them well at the time.

“We used to like the speed of a small, fast boats for taking our kids skiing and wake boarding,” explains Barry. “Now that our kids are grown and on their own, we enjoy the serenity of just cruising on the lake with the Sundancer and finding a nice quiet spot to anchor and spend a few hours to read or listen to music, and just enjoy the scenery… and a good bottle of wine,” says Barry.

This explains the elagant wood sign over the V-berth that reads “Cabarnet.” “We’re thinking of naming the boat Cabarnet,” says Barry, offering his and Jan’s sommelier leanings. “Or Cabaret,” he proposes. “As in, ‘Life is a cabaret, old chum.’” So far, neither has made its way onto the Sea Ray’s transom, although they have owned it for almost three years. They are obviously not stressing over boat names.

The 2009 28-foot Sea Ray Sundancer suits their present lifestyle well. They purchased it at the Spokane Boat Show in February 2010 from Trudeau’s Marina. Winters in Spokane, Washington, about 30 miles west of Coeur d’Alene, are notoriously frigid. But apparently people’s warm regard for boating continues unabated enough to support the annual winter show. The Feelys felt that warm glow as they walked the aisles in 2010.

“We went just to look around,” says Barry. “we had a keen interest in getting into a big boat someday, but some were way outside of our reality price range. We didn’t see anything that held a candle to that fantasy, until we walked down the display of Sea Ray boats. We respected the Sea Ray name because Jan’s sister and brother-in-law have had Sea Ray boats for years and have always talked highly of them. There were several models that we noticed, but the 270 really caught our fancy, and we kept returning to it. It didn’t take us long to decide to buy it. “

“We had just signed for a 30-foot slip lease at Silver Beach Marina since that was all they had open, and we were feeling a little bit sheepish about mooring a 19-foot boat there. So now we jokingly tell people that we went to the boat show to find a boat to fit our slip.”

The 270 Sundancer fills the slip pretty well and looks good just sitting there. And sometimes when Barry and Jan board the boat, that’s all they do. Sit there. Their view from the transom offers a fantastic view of Lake Coeur d’Alene and the western horizon.

“Quite often we will never leave the dock and spend the weekend right there at the marina. We have a great view and a very good restaurant [The Beachhouse]. Or we’ll barbecue on the dock. That’s a popular activity with people at our marina,” says Barry. Sunsets and a good bottle of cabernet sauvignon aboard a Sea Ray Sundancer. Sounds like a good prescription for stress management.

The Feelys’ Sea Ray is a 50th Anniversary Edition, so it came pretty loaded. Still, Barry added a heater for the cabin, a larger AC/DC inverter and a third battery. “Since we like to go boat camping in Beauty Bay, now we can easily go two or three nights before we have to get back to shore power.”

The heater also lets them extend their boating season because, while summer is spectacular in Coeur d’Alene, it is short-lived. And Barry and Jan Feely are intent on spending as much time aboard their Sea Ray as possible…cruising, overnighting, de-stressing, and sipping cabernet as they leisurely contemplate a boat name.

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