Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Boat show special

At the weekend we went to the Southampton Boat Show with, rather surprisingly, both boys. It takes almost four hours to drive there which is a pain, but it really is a much better show than the London Boat Show, now at Excel.

Sam was in heaven, as he managed to have lengthy and technical conversations about diamond files (the sort that file through bottles), batteries and solar panels, bilge pumps and much more. I went to Kelvin Hughes and spent a fortune on books, including the Imray guide to the French Canals - does this mean we're really going? Ben visited his favourite, the modern Folkboat. Guy was feeling very grotty with a horrible cold but managed to buy a lighter which produces flames in three different colours.

Then we went down to take a look at Gipsy Moth IV, Francis Chichester's round-the-world boat, now heavily restored for the second time after hitting a reef somewhere in the Pacific. Ben was deeply impressed with their Lavac toilet (just like ours) although I think Chichester used the original Baby Blake. We opened a lid which looked like a fridge and found a locker entirely full of packets of Walker's crisps. If you're thinking of doing some corporate hospitality on board (which is the plan for next season) that's obviously what they feed you on!

The view from the end of the pontoon was magnificent. We were very lucky with the weather on Saturday which was warm and sunny with light winds, and you could look up and down Southampton Water and see two huge new cruise liners, the QE2, cargo and container ships, racing yachts with amazing Kevlar sails, patrols to make sure no-one from the boat show fell in the water, and even the Isle of Wight ferry. The pontoon was bobbing up and down so much you really felt that you were out there.

We were delighted to meet Chris, Sally and Maddy from Moondance, one of our constant companions from last year - I think we first met in La Coruña. While we pootled around Portugal and Spain they did an Atlantic crossing and spent the winter in the West Indies. Moondance is now back in the UK and in 2009 they will probably take her down through the canals to the Med - easy to do as she's a Southerly with lifting keel, and draws almost nothing with the keel up.

Then home, in almost total silence except for the constant clicking of boys' thumbs on the PlayStation controllers, and Guy sniffing every 15 second for four hours...

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