Sunday, January 21, 2018

Vancouver Boat Show 2018

The Vancouver Boat Show is one of my favorite annual traditions.  In years past I outfitted a 40 foot Folkes Cutter Rigged sailboat, sailed her to Mexico and around the Sea of Cortexz, up to Alaska and the Queen Charlottes and eventually solo to Hawaii in winter  and around the Hawaiian islands in summer. I sailed  the boat back to Canada with a friend, but had to jury rig a mast after it broke in a major blow.
 The boat show has been the place where I’ve often learned of new advances in technology and safety. It’s also been the place where I’ve got some incredible deals.  I love looking at what ICOM has each. I love seeing the Cooper booth and remembering years ago taking night classes on Granville Island learning coastal navigation those early years with Sherrie.
Now with my sailboat out east ,where I go to sail the Great Lakes ,making my way slowly to the Atlantic with the dream of another ocean crossing, I don’t have any immediate major needs.  Offshore blue water fair winds and following seas beckons but these days I’m getting real joy from camping on shore and boating on the inland lakes.  I’m not into winter scuba here any more either but would like to get a motor and snorkel arrangement like the one I saw in the US at West Marine. The boat show is full of surprises and often has things I never thought up but come to get later in the year.
I  completely revamped my boat with three generations of advances in technology over the last 30 years. I got the SV Giri  barebones from a fellow who wanted to sail but found being a captain didn’t suit him as much as being crew on other’s boats. I had to outfit the boat completely while coast cruising the Strait and Vancouver Island and Juan de Fuca. Every piece of equipment seemed to come the day after I needed it.
One of the most memorable was was  the “pea soup” fog experience winter sailing and  coming into False Creek following a fishing boat.  My ex wife Sherrie was leaning off the bow trying to keep her eyes on the commercial boat ahead of us, shouting back directions.  I couldn’t see as far as my hand. The next day we got our first radar.  Another time after  a back breaking experience in Desolation Sound trying to anchor in 80 feet and the anchor wouldn’t set,  we got  our first anchor winch.
I’ve even had plates added to the bottom and new sails and rigging.  It’s an ongoing maintenance thing with a boat. The ocean is a harsh environment.  There’s little that compares to anchoring in a isolated beyond Desolation cove and diving for clams to chuck on shore.   Nothing compares to eating fresh caught barbecued fish on deck at anchor.    I’ve so many incredible experiences of sailing the west coast. Big Whales off the Mexican coast. Dolphins and Killer Whales surrounding the boat in Georgia Strait.  One of my favorite trips sailing back and forth among the islands between VAncouver to Victoria. I love the coast islands and their habours and anchorages. The San Juan Islands are especially special.
On the main floor of the exhibit I always look for the Metal Boats where the amazing engineers make Landing Crafts. Today the idea of driving a boat with my Honda ATV up to an island and driving off Rambo style seems so appealing.  I hunt and imagine this would improve my moose hunting which hasn’t been up to standards for years. I got a grouse and a rabbit last year. But if I had that landing craft I’d be back in the game! Sure enough I found it. These guys make such sturdy craft. My sailboat is steel and I love seeing the workmanship in the metal boats.
I also love the luxury coastal cruisers. If I won the lottery I’d buy one tomorrow. They’re so elegant. I always imagined myself in white trousers and a blue blazer. It’s never happened. I’ve always been more like Humphrey Bogart in African Queen.
Recent years I’ve been comparing the amazing Yamaha Wave Riders with Seadoos.  I have a Harley for land but I ‘ve just thought the equivalent on water might be something I ‘need’.    I’m also interested in  the fishing pedal boats that Western Canoe and Kayaking brings. They’re not expensive but I have no room to store them despite loving them so much.   There are so many good things.
Over the years it seems I’ve got everything Honda Centre produces from their amazing generators to their ATV’s and off road motorcycles. I’m loving my side by side Honda 500 Pioneer and loved the CRF off-road 250 before that.
There were even floating house boats that people take to the Okanagan lakes for the summer there.  Lots of rental opportunities and getaways.
I really need to win a ‘lottery’ and go to the Vancouver Boat Show ‘flush’ . It really is the ultimate boy and girl toy store. There were even these new water skiing boats there this year that looked like something Vin Diesel would drive.   I’m more a OO7 sailor because sailing I can go long distance quietly and cheap. But I do like speed.  The Vancouver Boat Show has everything in every price range.
The first person I met walking around the second floor was Selim. I loved seeing him.  He and his brother started Steveston Marina. This guy really talked to the fishermen and boaters and learned what they actually needed. He always has the ‘best’ ,most ‘reliable’ and ‘safest’ products. I outfitted my boat for the trip to Mexico completely at Steveston’s.  Everything worked. When you’re 100 miles from land and can only see rough seas and threatening clouds around you, it’s important that the recommendations you got and equipment you have is right.  I’m forever thankful to Selim and Steveston’s for those early years.
It was all I could do to resist upgrading my Mustang offshore suit this time. Stevestons always have great deals and Mustang folk were there too to show me the improvements in fabric and design. My offshore clothing is nearly as important as the boat stuff especially in winter sailing.  Mustang , the best, has improved greatly on it’s boating wear taking lessons from the Navy Seals learning.   I don’t ‘need’ new gear “now”.  It was with great restraint I resisted. Selim will have it tomorrow.  I wont get boat show prices but if it’s sold out he’ll get more in.  I could always rely on Selina.
Walking around that arena circle with all the vendors was for me la walk through my personal history. I love my North Sails. I just got a new genoa a couple of years back and will need to replace my main sail again soon. It was last repaired in California when I was anchored in Sausalito before heading out under the Golden Gate to sail solo in Winter to the Hawaiian Islands. I’d hit hurricane force winds off the Columbia and taken some chaffing Despite the torture that North Sail took in those ugliest of conditions it really only needed some luff repairs that have last another decade and a couple of ocean crossings. North Sails take a beating.  But like all good things there’s a time to replace them. When I got the new Genoa from them I was amazed at how much closer I could sail to the wind.  My sailboat was so happy feeling.
I stopped to talk to the greatest riggers of all time,  Pro Tech Yacht Services!!! They’ve done all my rigging and do the rigging for the offshore racers as well. Years back I had a new roller furling and was trying it out solo in the North Pacific.  I was going like a bat out of hell in 60 knot winds  only to find that I couldn’t get the sail in.  Sailing solo and trying the new rig out , I was feared pitchpoling as wind and seas increased.  I was considering cutting the sail to slow the out of control speed but an Angel, God watches over solo sailors, reminded me  I did have a hamm radio/SSB.   I got  a phone patch to Pro Tech.   They’ve helped countless offshore racers and they explained really simply what I was doing wrong, knowing I was likely hysterical and probably unable to follow complex instruction.    Solo in the big seas I didn’t want to come about and broach, and was dependent on an autopilot which wasn’t going to hold me in those winds.  I listened to that wise experienced calm voice tell me what  I needed to do. I did it. I  didn’t pitchpole.  I didn’t destroy thousands of dollars of  sail that I would need later to to get to back to land .  That pro tech self furling rig served me on two ocean crossings too.    Pro Tech has done all my off shore rigging even lovingly putting in the guidelines that kept my dog from going overboard. They’re incredible.
The smoked wild salmon display caught me too. It’s called ‘Indian candy’ for a reason.
I loved talking to the folk about the new EPIRBS.  Mine needs to be re stored or recalibrated. It’s a decade old but with new battery should work. The price has come down. An EPIRB is triggered by water pressure and gives off the position the boat goes down.  Major insurance. What I liked this year were  the Personal miniaturized satellite connected wearable devices. Considering my first EPIRB thousands of dollars and 3 feet long,  6 inches wide the advances are amazing.
I have that fun each boat show, seeing the technology improvements.  I’ve a Volvo inboard engine I got to replace my Yanmar that lasted 20 years. It’s half the size and weight of the original ones with better performance and power.  Seeing these advances makes me so proud of the human race making such advances in science and technology.  The boat show is always a high for me in this very positive way.
I was looking for a folding boat to replace my canoe. I simply don’t have storage for my perfect Clipper Kevlar canoe I bought a decade back from Western Canoing and Kayaking in Abbotsford.  So many years ago I started white water canoeing with a Grummon Aluminum. I think of my 40 foot sailboat as a really big canoe.  The actual Kevlar canoe I have now hasn’t seen any white water, just fishing on BC lakes.  It’s the ultimate Skookum canoe . It just takes up too much room in my storage locker. What do I learn when I’m talking to the Western Canoe guys at the boat show , really there to lust after their pedal boat, is that they’re consider a trade in. I love this.  It’s always a hassle upgrading unless I can trade something in as I’ve no time to sell on line even if there’s more profit.  So while I didn’t find a folding boat I found a solution.  So many times I’ve been at the boat show talking with people and learned what I needed to learn in just this way.
I even discussed sailing down the Eerie Canal or up the Lawrence with one of the Blue Water Cruising Association  folk. Laura and I had been on their watch for years helping get the advertising and maintain the Current’s Magazine when Blue Water Sailing Association was only volunteer organization. It was a lot of work maintaining the funding for the magazine, hunting down contributors, getting new folk to advertise.  We learned a lot.
Blue Water Crusing Association really was a great place in those volunteer only years with mostly folk who had been offshore or were going offshore. But organizations get bigger and often better.  I stopped going one year where there seemed to be too much coastal sailing stuff. Everyone has their preferences.  Work always overrides and competes with recreation.   I got more involved with writing too. Living aboard for years, and always sailing.
 I enjoyed talking with the BC Marine writers at their booth.  I really must write another book, I say, seeing such productivity present there.  It’s just that a book takes more time than a blog. I’m really so busy with adventures now I don’t seem to get around to recording them in a form for books and stories. It’s on the bucket lists.  I’ve got miles of film and journals from several offshore trips and whole lots of stories.   I remember when I thought I’d give a presentation but never got around to it. I used to teach offshore wilderness medicine courses to cruisers but even that fell by the wayside.
There just never is enough time to do the things you want to , to quote Jim Croce. When I was docked in San Diego I remember so enjoying eating crayfish in Ingrid Croce’s awesome restaurant.  Those were the days I was playing guitar a lot and singing Jimmy Buffet’s iconic sailing song, “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes. We sang and playing a lot of music on the back of my boat in Mexico.  Where does the time go?
There are young and old and whole families at the boat show each year.  I laughed at my doctor friends who we sailed with who loved having their small kids in the cabin knowing where they were. They were doing all those family things together that so many land lovers miss out on.  Theres’ a real ‘vacation’  and ‘summer’ feel to the boat show.  People in Vancouver have that ready for summer look in their eyes.  You can almost feel the sand underfoot. Such a contrast to the cold dreary rain outside.
This year I was alone. Other years I’ve gone with so many different people.  In the past I’ve enjoyed the lectures but now it’s like I’m over the hump. I’ve been there, done that, got the t shirt, wear the ball cap and worry I sound like a boring old man. I suppose I can rest on my laurels. It’s a place where I’m truly an authority. I’m part of an elite group.  We know each other when we meet.  It’s good to talk together.  This a few of us reminisced about our silly running aground experiences. I am planning more sailing for sure. It’s too much fun. One day I’ll turn in the offshore sailing boat for a coastal 26 footer and water ballast with 50 hp. I sailed around VAncouver Island with a couple of guys who had these and loved them. Because they’re trailerable they’re not only all round less costly but easier and cheaper to store.
These days I’m mostly interested in inland camping and fishing. I want a folding boat that I can take on top of my new Mini Cooper S.  I’d like to go out for a day, and keep it easily at home without having to go to the completely full storage locker. I have a little Honda 2.5 hp kicker that I want to use more too and a flat bottom boat will be easier on Gilbert the dog now that he’s blind.
I loved truck camping last year and am already preparing for the weekends fishing with Gilbert even if we never seem to catch fish. Hunting in the fall were’ more than lucky.  Sailing I caught so many salmon and ling cod in tidal waters.  I just dragged hooks behind the boat and reeled in supper. Lake and stream fishing requires more patience.  I’m not known for my patience though I keep believing I’m working on it.  Sailing is a lesson in patience.
Another great Vancouver Boat Show year for me.  Thank you all,  you incredible people who make it all happen. Thank you for  those who make the  great stuff, those who  supply the great stuff and those who sell the great stuff.  You’ve made my life so much richer with your incredible equipment and advice.

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