Sunday, 20 March 2011

Winter Show RoundUp

     "We're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside..."
                                                    -Emerson, Lake and Palmer

     The Dock is officially locked down and empty on October 31 every year.  Most of us start counting down to Spring Splash Day on November 1.   By November Deuce the refit lists are written, parts priced, and budgets set.  Then, we bide our time. We grit our teeth through the introduction of winter, try to control the twitches shakes and fraying tempers commonly known as the DTs (Dockless Tortures).  Just when it seems that winter will never end, when we all have started to run out of places to pile the snow that the *&^%!*&# plow has dumped in the driveway (Again.  For the third time.  Today.),  a dim glimmer of light appears on the January -grey horizon...

     Show Season has started!!!

     The Toronto International Boat Show is a mid-January necessity for SWMBO and I.  In the past, we've made it a daytrip, but this year we decided to take advantage of one of the weekend hotel packages offered. This is definitely going to be our SOP in the future.
 $95 a night got us a comfortable lakeside room on the 27th floor of the Westin Harbour Castle.  You read that right- ONLY NINETY-FIVE LOONIES!  got us this view:

    Parking was also cheaper than at the show, and there was a shuttle bus running between the hotel and the show on the half hour.  Comfortable, convenient, cheap.  I liiiike it!

    Saturday morning we catch the first shuttle to the show, where we are to meet Gavin and Sylvia.  This is a "comfortable shoe" show-  it is BIG.   BIG space filled with a BIG assortment of boats, some little but most BIG, BIG outboards (no wisecracks about my offseason BIG belly, smartasses),

and BIG pricetags.

 It is also kind of contradictory, because while it is a big show, with a lot of vendors, there are a number of vendors all vending much of the same stuff.  I counted four booths flogging steam mops, and pontoon boats were EVERYWHERE!     In contrast to the profusion of over-engined patios on pontoons, the sailboat selection was smaller than in years past.  This year there was no Macgregor 26, no BIG Lagoon catamaran, No Island Packets (SWMBO was disappointed).  On the bright side, the location occupied in past years by the Mac 26 powersailer display had been transformed into a Caribbean lounge, offering Canadian beer and rum from Barbados, jerk chicken, and a steel drummer playing all the cruise ship hits.  Gavin and I, being the pecunious small boat sailors that we are, sniffed at the fit and finish of the 30-40-something foot Hunters and Beneteaus and Catalinas we tromped through,  unable to justify the $250K + price tags.  SWMBO and I oohed and ahhed at the upholstery of a Sabre sedan, but giggled at the idea that a boat with a half-million dollar-plus pricepoint doesn't have an oven... but does have 4 televisions.

           The only cruising catamaran on display was a newcomer to the show, a Gemini 105Mc.  This is a boat that has a strong following and after poking throughout the boat, I can understand why.  There are a LOT of  features packed into a relatively small space.  Sylvia fell in love!  Click on the link below for details.

  One boat that Gavin and I agreed represented comparatively good value was the 28 Magnam, from Polish builder TES.  The fit and finish was miles ahead of the North American production boats in the same size range, at a lower price point-  ONLY $80 000-ish.

   Need gear?  It's probably here, from dinghies to docks, chart cards to greeting cards. Need a break from browsing and spending?  Head over to the indoor lake.  This is a really cool part of the show- the rink at the Ricoh coliseum is filled with water, and you can try out a kayak, canoe, paddle boat, or watch wakeboarding demonstrations, or enjoy the antics of Duma, the Wakeboarding, Dinghy Driving Wonder Dog.

On Sunday, we browsed the small boats, and met up with ScottB from and .  It was great to share a beer with somebody I had only shared bandwidth with previously.  Scott sails a Hunter 33 on Georgian Bay, and I am pretty sure I didn't beg too hard for some crew time- Georgian Bay is beautiful cruising country.  Good to meet you, Scott.

   I got some good ideas for my next small boat project,

     and one boat that we kept coming back to is the Hobie Mirage Tandem Island.  Kayak, trimaran, sailboat, paddleboat, this is one flexible package.

      Louise and I both agree that one of these is on our "When (if) We  Ever Actually Have Disposable Income" list.

      There are worse ways to spend a weekend in January.

     In February, Cranky Jim and Marianne  went to the London International Boat Fishing and Leisure Show. Unlike our Toronto Boat Show quartet of tire-kickers, the Crankies were playing for keeps.  They bought a boat!  According to the update I got from Marianne, they have sold 2 Can't Anchor Us and replaced her with the smaller aluminum fishing boat they bought at the show.  Get me some pictures, Crankies!!

     This week, I invaded Hogtown again, this time at the invitation of Hilary, and we hit the opening day of the Toronto Sportsmen's Show.   I was just browsing (it is really a weird feeling to not NEED new gear or parts or just stuff for any of our flotsam), but Hilary was on a mission.  Newly retired, he has decided to take up flyfishing.  After wandering through the gun dealers, crossbow dealers, fly-in hunting and fishing resorts we stopped at the Peregrine exhibit.  What regal, confident birds. Look at those eyes and you may rethink your place in the food chain.

   After checking out kayaks and camping and foul weather gear dealers, we managed to find the flyfishing section.

       Hilary hooked up with Ken Collins, the owner and head guide of Grand River Troutfitters.  Ken is an affable, knowledgeable flyfishing teacher/guide.  He has a passion for the sport, and the art, of flyfishing, and he effectively conveys that enthusiasm to others.  Here he gives Hilary a crash course in rod selection:

He's a little blurry because he is always in motion- casting, retrieving, gesturing, explaining with his hands.  Here he demonstrates to Hilary how big his catch will be with the new rod:

     Hilary got a great deal on an Orvis fly fishing package- rod, reel, line, carrying case.  It was such a successful day for him, I got put to work helping to haul his haul.

    As big as the Toronto Boat Show is, it is well-organized.  Every patron through the door gets a guide with a map and vendor locations, presentation times and locations,  the signage is plentiful and clear, and the layout logical- one hall leads into another, which leads into another.
   The Sportsmen's Show was at the opposite end of the spectrum.  Very little signage, a confusing guide which was available only in self-serve racks also filled with complimentary newspapers which looked a lot like the guide,  and the show was apparently scattered through a number of  largely separate rooms on different escalator-accessed levels.  The reason I say "apparently" is that on our way home, Hilary and I came to the conclusion that in our hours of wandering, we must have missed at least one display area, because we didn't see any fishing boats or general fishing gear,  boating supplies or the advertised fishing pond.   If anybody affiliated with the Toronto Sportsmen's Show is reading this, c'mon guys, would a couple of arrows hung from the ceiling really break the budget?

    Less than four weeks until the Dock is open again for the season.  I think I can make it.

   LAST CHANCE!  The Contest closes at midnight tonight, EST.

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