Boat shows have been an important part of our preparation for cruising. It was a little more than two years ago when Cindy and I attended our first sailboat show in St. Petersburg, Florida. There we signed up for our six-day sailing lessons, covering ASA 101-104. At that time, I was just feeling out my wife to see if she was willing to consider making such a drastic change as to sell all, buy a sailboat, and go cruising. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since December of 2011, we have returned to St. Pete twice, attended the Miami Strictly Sail show twice, and we’ve been to the Annapolis show once. Why? What do we do at boat shows?
Perhaps, the main reason I like to go is that it helps to keep the dream alive and the ultimate goal before my eyes. While living on our boat in a marina and having limited time to thoroughly enjoy it due to a heavy work schedule and other demands, it is easy to lose sight of the enticements which drew us to the cruising lifestyle in the first place. It is nice to listen to and interact with other people, hearing their stories and feeling their excitement about cruising to new and exciting places – about the demands, joy and freedom of such a lifestyle.
Additionally, each show has a full slate of free lectures every day covering a diverse set of subjects… from storm strategies to solar energy, from marine communications to marine refrigeration, from cruising budgets to medical preparation, from anchoring to rigging, from cruising the BVI’s to the Bahamas, from outfitting a boat for cruising to weather forecasting, from buying the right boat to preparing for an extended cruise. In the last two years, we’ve learned a lot from others who have already gained years of valuable experience as cruisers.
There are always a host of new boats (and a few used ones) to inspect and explore. This was an essential opportunity when we were in the boat-buying mode. In fact, it was at the Miami boat show that we met the broker from which we ultimately bought Beatitude. Even though we are no longer in the market for a sailboat, it is still enjoyable to see what is available (and to visit the 60 foot catamarans and dream what it would be like to go cruising on one of those. They are massive with unbelievably huge living areas).
Also, at these shows, one finds booth after booth of companies selling their boating and cruising-related goodies. We’ve learned a lot by visiting these vendors and have bought a few things along the way. At the recent St. Pete show, we bought our new anchor. From this show, we may be buying a new chart-plotter and/or autopilot. I may be waiting, however, for the newer version which hits the market in a few months.
There were two nice bonuses at this Miami show. The first was a Valentine’s evening dinner with my beautiful wife at a world-class French restaurant, Pascal’s on Ponce, in Coral Gables. It was an expensive splurge, but was so nice. It really is the case that one gets what one pays for.
The other wonderful thing that happened at this show was that we were able to meet up with Tim and Annie. You may remember that they left Regatta Pointe three months ago after selling most of their earthly possessions and moving aboard a sailboat, as we have done. Their journeys thus far have taken them over to the Bahamas and back to Miami. They have been moored in the Coconut Grove mooring field, which was visible from our hotel room window. We were so happy to catch up on the latest over Sunday Brunch before departing for home.
Although their initial plans for a cruising itinerary have changed, they are loving their lives as cruisers. Their excitement and passion have reinforced the excitement we feel as we prepare for life without a permanent place to call home. We will likely meet up with them in the next year or so after we depart Regatta Pointe for locales unknown.