What do boaters do in the winter when it's too cold actually to go boating? (Not counting those crazy frostbite sailors of course.)
Well, it's kind of a tradition in these chilly northern climes to check out a boat show or two. Kick the tires (metaphorically speaking) on all those expensive yachts that you will never be able to afford to buy. Talk to the sales people and do some comparison shopping on the boats that you might actually be able to afford to buy. Visit the stands of all the other vendors for everything boaty under the sun - from resorts to refrigerators, trailers to telephones, binoculars to bilge pumps. I usually leave a boat show having bought huge bags full of nautical swag of various sorts.
Of course not all boat shows are equal. When I used to live in the UK I was spoiled. The London Boat Show is amazing and the Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace was even more my cup of tea (as we say in England.) When I first came to the US I was somewhat disappointed to discover that some apparently important boat shows have nothing but powerboats. Yes, it is true that if you Google "best powerboat blog on the planet" you will arrive at Proper Course. But I'm not actually a powerboat guy; I'm a sailor. If I'm going to go to a boat show, I want to see sailboats and sailboat stuff.
But some boat shows in the US don't have any sailboats at all. (Or hardly any.) Can you believe it possum? I was most disappointed in that regard when, on our first week in the US in 1989, we went to the New York Boat Show. And there is another boat show, not a million miles from where I live now, that it is mocked every year by a group of guys from Sailing Anarchy who meet up for a few beers first and then proceed to have their photo taken in front of what they consider to be the most hideous powerboat in the show.
But I digress. There is a boat show in New England next month that definitely looks like it's worth a visit. It is called, strangely enough, the New England Boat Show. It's at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center from February 11-19. And right at the top of the Features page on their website there is an article about something called SailFest. And it says...
Featuring the latest in Sailboats for your racing and cruising pleasure. See, board and explore sailboats from 8’ to 42’ from more than twenty manufacturers. Shop more than 100 booths of sailing related products and services including sailmakers, canvas, sailboat hardware, cordage, marine electronics, rigging equipment and services, time share companies offering large sailboats for fractional ownership, sailing schools, foul weather gear, sailing gear, clothing.
(OK. I admit it. I bolded all those references to sails and sailing and sailboats. I was just so excited to see them.)
Wait. Boston Convention Center? One of my three readers works just across the road from there. Let's do lunch. Have your people tweet my people.
Wait. Where was I? Oh yes, New England Boat Show.
Another pet peeve of mine about boat shows is that some of them are just rows and rows of vendor booths pushing their products or services. When I go to a boat show I want to be entertained and educated too. I want stuff going on that is not all about trying to make me buy a bilge pump or a seat cushion (neither of which would be of much use to me on a Laser anyway.) I want seminars. I want interactive exhibits. I want to meet famous sailors. I want scuba diving lessons. I want Jimmy Buffett. I want dancing girls... No wait. I'm getting a bit carried away here. But you get the idea.
And it does look as if the organizers of the New England Boat Show have made the effort to offer many of my "wants" (but perhaps no dancing girls this year?) There's a chance to meet Abby Sunderland, the youngest solo sailor ever to circumnavigate the globe. There is radio-controlled sailboat racing. There are seminars on all sorts of yachtie topics from How to use your boat's radio to Lines and knots, from How to love the fog to Ethanol. Mmmm. I love ethanol.
And there is a Power Boat Docking Challenge. Hmmm. After that little incident with the fuel dock in Stamford on my Bareboat Cruising Preparation course I think I'll keep clear of any docking challenges that might be watched by persons of a nervous disposition. I didn't really totally demolish the fuel dock... honestly. Well, it didn't actually explode... much.
Where was I? Oh yes. The New England Boat Show.
Oh look. There's even a booth devoted to Old Charts of New England where you can learn about "the history behind the surveying of the U.S. coast, how chart making got its start in the United States and the importance nautical charts played in the growth of our nation." I'll definitely have to check that out. I have one of those old coastal survey charts on my wall, a much appreciated present from my son when we moved into this house. I would love to learn more about how it fits into the history of chart making in this region.
OK. That's it. I'm definitely going to go to the New England Boat Show. Any readers or other bloggers from New England want to join me?