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A Field Trip to the Seattle Boat Show

Look at that concentration! How can the fish say no to these cuties?

Early last Saturday morning we packed everyone up into our perpetually overloaded Subaru wagon and drove north to Seattle, the Northwest’s mecca of boating. “We’re having a field trip today, girls! Get ready for an exciting day at the Seattle Boat Show!” we announced.

“Boat show!” Holly repeated with 2-year-old glee.

“Ugh, the boat show?” Leah moaned, her 5-year-old self channeling her future teenager.

“Yes!” we replied in excitement. “It’s going to be really cool.”

“I don’t want to go to the boat show!” Leah replied. “How boring.”

“There will be fishing there!” I said trying to keep my happy voice on. Thankfully, the promise of spending time trying to hook a river trout in a big smelly tub of water was what did the trick. Leah was on board.

Arriving at the show around 11 am our first stop was, of course, the promised trout pond. The trout keepers must have made an error that morning though and fed the fish a hearty breakfast because after 20 minutes there was nary a bite among the hoards of children surrounding the “pond.” Thankfully, like most fishing fans, our girls were not disappointed and were satisfied with just the challenge of attempting to hook a real fish.

Our dream dinghy, found.

At noon, we filled the girls’ fists with goldfish crackers and string cheese and pointed the bright orange BOB stroller towards the actual marine gear. We admired many lovely things and left our drool marks on a number of dinghies and watermakers. We were particularly fond of the AB UltraLight aluminum bottom RIB; but priced at $3k a new one is definitely on our “dream” list.

After walking around the main floor for about an hour and a half we were ready to rest our legs and meandered over to the Red Stage where John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal were about to give their presentation “South Pacific: Seattle to New Zealand” which we thought could be fairly useful. We settled in the very back of the seminar hall and handed out more snacks to the girls. Of course, they were not hungry at all due to their steady stream of crackers and thought it would be fun to crawl across the freshly abandoned rows of chairs around us. By the fifth slide we started to notice that people were throwing looks in our direction and thought it best to move on.

We sought out the elevator and travelled upstairs, where we’d saved the very best stuff for last: the Real cruising gear. Captain’s Nautical Supply’s booth was the first to greet us and I enjoyed chatting with Janna Cawrse Esarey a bit. She and her husband had cruised Mexico the season after we did, continuing on to the South Pacific, then on to Hong Kong and she wrote an excellent book about it. Ironically, she and Graeme also returned from cruising to have two daughters now the exact same age as ours; they also plan on heading south again in another couple of years.

Our prized boat show purchase...red/white dual color LED bulbs!

We continued our stroll, admiring all of the shiny boat gear: electronics and watermaker and refrigeration systems. We found one of our favorite blogging authors, the hilarious Rich Boren of s/v Third Day at his Cruise RO Watermakers booth. We talked at length about all of the amazing times ahead cruising Mexico with our kids as he has done the past three years; Rich is as funny and friendly in person as in his blog. Next time we’ll have to ask him about his watermakers!

We then found ourselves staring dreamily at all the sparkly LED lights at the Fisheries Supply display. In chatting with one of the Fisheries reps, we discovered brand-new LED marine bulb technology: a replacement disc-type LED bulb that will fit in our existing fixtures that – wait for it – is both red AND white in the same bulb! When you first switch on the bulb it is red, but if you switch it off/on again within three seconds it is white. Very cool! We have been slowly replacing our incandescent bulbs in our old Seadog type fixures with LED bulbs as the power-hogging bulbs blow out. However, all our fixtures are only on/off without a red/white light feature that is so nice when sailing at night. Now with a replacement bulb under $20 we not only have a highly efficient LED light but it’s red and white to boot! We are so excited about this simple purchase that it made the whole show for us.

Lastly, we purchased discounted copies of Shawn and Heather’s stunning “Sea of Cortez” and “Pacific Mexico” guidebooks. Not only that, we got to meet these terrific cruisers and authors and have them sign our new books. Good travels ahead indeed!

All in all, I count this as one of our most exciting and fun field trips ever, and I think I can say that all the crew agrees. We looked at a ton of amazing gear and even brought home a little bit. Our favorite part of all: along with visiting loads of old boating friends, we met many new and interesting boat people at the show which is, after all, what makes this lifestyle the best.

One Comment

  1. Victoria says:

    Only about 80 days until Strictly Sail in Oakland. We need to make some big decisions before then about what to buy there. We’re also hoping to see some seminars, this time concentrating on details like sail inventories instead of fun sea stories. We fed the kids as many snacks as necessary to see two of Janna Cawrse Esarey’s talks last year. I’m sure we’ll enjoy it and our kids will too!