Friday, February 1, 2013

Chicago Strictly Sail Show

Ron and I have been eagerly awaiting the time when we could experience the wonder of our first Strictly Sail show ever since the weekend after the 2011 show.  Yup, that's right, we've had to wait an entire year to experience the vast number of vendor booths and sailing related seminars that is the Strictly Sail Show. 

We sort of stumbled upon the boat show last year as we sat in Chili's where we finally started having serious discussions about our plans.  Over bottomless chips and salsa we formulated our plans and managed to stumble upon the show's website.  That day we made plans to attend the show the following year and have been looking forward to the experience since then.

Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!  Since we haven't had a chance to get our boat in the water we really haven't had a chance to see what we really need versus what we think we need and coming to the show caused our minds and imaginations to run wild.  They had everything from the latest gadgets to cute (but expensive) bags of all sizes made from old sails.  I was quite impressed with our practicality, we browsed a LOT of things that would have been fun but unnecessary to have and in the end only walked out with a Magma grill and two C Cushion backrests to try out, well those and some dip mixes that we couldn't say no to.  The Magma grill we definitely needed and had planned to buy before we even splashed the boat.  We tend to grill 80% of our meals on the boat and being as Hullabaloo didn't come with one we took advantage of the good deal and got a larger one that will better handle our grilling needs. 

I had been doing some research online for cockpit cushions as the ones that came with Hullabaloo are somewhat cheap and will most likely absorb massive amounts of water, especially with having a water-loving dog aboard, and lead to heavy, stinky, mildewy cushions.  So I made it a point to stop at the C Cushions booth to get my hands on some cushions and talk a bit more with an associate.  To my surprise, we ended up talking with the owner of the family run business.  We got some great information from him including putting cup holders in the cushions and splitting the aft (rear) cushion into thirds so we can have a hump at the helm but also be able to access both side storage compartments. 

Since we're not in need of an entire set of cockpit cushions immediately, and quite frankly can't afford it now, I settled on getting two back rests to try out this summer - of course these were also at a special boat show price and saved us a whopping $10 between the two.  Seeing as replacing our cockpit cushions with C Cushions would run about $1000, I thought it best to see how the 14"X14" squares held up this next summer.  These cushions are made from closed-cell foam which means that they won't absorb water - EVER. That means no more having to rush and get cushions inside when it rains or bringing them in every night so dew doesn't make them give everyone wet-butt the next day. But the best part is not having to worry about them getting soaked when people or dogs sit on them while wet! No more having to dry off Lexie EVERY time she gets out of the water? I'm in!

Remote control racing, nice to sit and watch while getting our second wind
We had a chance to gather information on various chartplotter set-ups and found a guy that can make a spinaker sock for us for a great price.  We were even able to have a Lewmar technician break down a winch very similar to ours to demonstrate how to celan and service ours, something that is on Ron's to-do list for this spring.  Besides the great information from people, we also left with a plethera of pamphlets, booklets and flyers to keep us busy for a while.

We also went to a seminar called "Perspectives of a Cruising Couple" given by Marc and Jane Adams from Sail Imagine who completed a circumnavigation with their three kids.  It was great to hear about their different perspectives, fears and favorites of their journey.  We had planned to go to another seminar earlier in the day but got googley-eyed with all the stuff to check out and lost track of time.  Next year we plan to focus more on seminars and less on the toys and gadgets. 

Surprisingly, the lines to get on the boats weren't too terribly long.  We managed to get on some Catalinas, Jeanneaus, Beneteaus and even the Polish built Delphia 47.  While beautiful, seeing these boats only made me more glad to have our boat.  It seems that the newer boats lack the real wood craftsmanship that Hullabaloo has abound.  Instead the new boats have wood laminate and fiberglass features that remind me more of our MacG.  Perhaps it's the modern interior with light upholstery and bamboo/light wood design that is off-putting to me.  They just don't look like what a sailboat should in my mind, however, I know a lot of people that prefer that look over the older, classic interior.  I guess it's a good thing that the newer styles don't do much for me as they are certainly NOT in our budget anyway.

We ended our day at an Irish Pub that was blasting Flogging Molly and similar Irish rock.  Over reuben sandwiches, beer and chips we recounted our day and all that we had seen and learned.  For our first Strictly Sail show I don't think it could have gone better.  We'll definitely be back next year, hopefully with free tickets from our marina!
Good Irish food and better Irish beer at Fado's Irish Pub