On Monday, three friends and I headed into Boston to check out the New England Boat Show.
After a slightly alcoholic lunchtime diversion (more on that at the end of the post) we hung a right after entering the show and headed for the section with sailboats. As we are all Laser sailors we were eager to see if any of the manufacturers represented at the show had come up with a boat better than a Laser. I mean it's been over 40 years now. Surely somebody has invented a better boat.
There were dinghies of all descriptions and catamarans and trimarans. There were even a lot of those sailboats that you can sleep on and poop in if that's what takes your fancy. I've never really been much into pooping in boats but my friends were eager to take off their shoes and disappear inside some of the boats you can poop in. When they emerged I would ask them, "So what are The Two Things I need to know about this boat?" They would look puzzled (I often seem to have this effect on people) and then they would answer something like, "The V-berth is small and the cockpit is big," or "It's got nice curtains and a shiny wheel." I really don't remember all the replies.
Anyway after a while it was unanimously agreed that none of the sailing boats at the show were better than Lasers (even if you could poop in many of them) and off we went to play with the model boats on the Remote Control Sailing Pond. I must admit I was pretty good at steering the RC boat around the race course but my friends did their best to embarrass me. They were awful. The helpful man running the stand had to keep running over and rescuing their boat after they had lost control and done the RC equivalent of going aground aka trying to make the boat jump out of the pool. After one of our party (who shall be nameless) managed to T-bone the other RC yacht on the pond in a blatant port-starboard foul, the helpful man running the stand's face turned a shade of beetroot red and he started babbling hysterically about it's not bumper boats so we decided to move on before he had us evicted from the show. Hey, it was nothing that you couldn't fix with duct tape.
So then we wandered around the rest of the show which was given over to powerboats. Being an anal-retentive type I insisted that the party stick to a mathematically efficient grid pattern so we didn't miss anything. We sneered at the jetskis. We debated what kind of boat we would choose as a Mommy Boat (if we weren't passionately opposed to Mommy Boats which of course we all are.) We fantasized about owning a cruising motorboat which was large enough to carry a Laser onboard so that we could travel to Laser regattas in it, maybe even to Florida.
After an hour or so of kicking the tires (metaphorically speaking) on powerboats and taking our shoes off and putting our shoes on more times than I can recall, we kind of lost sight of our original objective and decided that if we were going to go over to the dark side we might as well really go for it and unanimously decided that the right powerboat for us was some monstrosity that was longer than my house. Personally I liked it because it had a flat screen TV in the owner's stateroom because I always like to watch TV while I am sleeping. Unfortunately, in this sector of the market you don't get a flat screen TV in the head so you can't watch TV while you are pooping. I was also impressed with the explanation of the helpful man on the stand that you could steer it with a joystick thingie which made it all seem very easy and would probably avoid a recurrence of that unfortunate collision with the fuel dock in Stamford. (It didn't actually explode. Well, not much.)
Anyway the object of our desires cost about 700 grand and we worked out it would cost about half my yearly income in gas to drive it to Florida and back. I tried to explain to my friends that if we split all the costs four ways it wouldn't sound so bad but they weren't convinced. I guess, in spite of our momentary delusions, we really aren't part of the 1%. Mitt Romney probably buys a boat like this for each of his kids as an Xmas present. Do Mormons do Xmas?
Where was I? Where am I? Oh yes, South Boston with aching feet.
So, by following my anal-retentive grid we eventually stumbled into the corner of the show that was hosting the Powerboat Docking Challenge. After challenging all my friends to have a go at this, I quickly sidestepped over to the Old Charts of New England stand. For me this was the highlight of the show. They had some fascinating old charts of all the coastal areas around here, many from the US Coastal Survey and some from private chart makers going back to the early 1800s. My son bought me an 1861 chart of Mount Hope Bay (aka My Bay) when we moved into our current house and I think some of the charts on this stand would make wonderful presents for certain people I know.
My friends didn't seem to want to talk about how well they did in the Powerboat Docking Challenge. Apparently none of them had won. So we wandered over to find one of the friends who had sailed with us in Cabarete in January who was working a stand at the show for his business. He seemed pleased to see us and we passed a pleasant hour reminiscing about Cabarete and all the amazing experiences we had had there which seemed even more exciting and scary and dangerous the more we talked about them.
By then it was time for dinner so we found an Irish pub where bangers and mash was on the menu. I have to say that Boston does Irish pubs better than the Dominican Republic does. Who would have thunk it?
So what are the two things I will remember about our day out at the 2012 New England Boat Show?
The first will be that one of our group gave his details to the helpful man running the stand for the Massachusetts State Treasurer's Office who was offering a service to find unclaimed property and within a few seconds the helpful man had found some forgotten stocks that would have been enough to buy two Lasers or the flat screen TV in the owner's stateroom on the boat longer than my house.
The second will be what we did before the show. A few weeks ago I met the owner of Eastside Wines and Market in South Boston. He explained to me that the secret of his business is to find wines that overperform and are undervalued. I told him I planned to swing by his wine store before going to the show and he laid on a wine tasting for our little group. Wow! What a revelation! I tasted wines that I had never heard of before and bought a few bottles. This place is a hidden gem. If you are going to the Boat Show this weekend, or are in the area for other reasons, be sure to swing by Eastside Wines at 474 East 8th Street. You won't be disappointed.
I think I'll take a nap now and watch some TV.