"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Sunday, September 11, 2016

49 Days: Boats. Lots and Lots of Boats

So weekends are iffy for the blog-a-day thing. I'm catching up again this morning. John and I spent the day at the First Annual Wilmington Boat Show yesterday, so when we got home we were both pretty worn out, and the best kind of worn out. It was an incredible day.

Ever since Wilmington's new convention center opened a couple years ago I've been waiting for a boat show. I mean, why else even build a convention center, right? Well, the wait was worth it. This was a bigger deal than I would have ever dreamt. John and I were able to park on our side of the river at the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial with our $10 admission including a water taxi to the main show over at the city marina. Of course we checked out Twiggy, the Waterskiing Squirrel before we crossed the Cape Fear. Twiggy was cool, her handler was a bit odd.

Twiggy, in all her glory

There wasn't much aside from the waterskiing squirrel to see or do on the Brunswick County side of the river, so we water taxi-ed it over the the marina. The taxi was advertised to be running every 20 minutes, but it seemed the two boats in service were picking up every 10 or 15. Oh, and the boat we rode back at the end of the day had a bar open. Yes, I had a rum punch on a boat to top off my day at the boat show. It's the little things, really. :-)

And what a day it was. The taxi let us off at Pier 33, which is sort of a part of the adjacent  city marina but not technically. The boat displays began there, running around the pier and to three sets of docks full of everything from small flats skiffs to two million dollar yachts, all of which we were welcome to climb aboard. Boat shows have for me always been about dreaming, and those yachts offered some BIG dreams. It was fun watching the eyes of fellow show patrons bug out as they took in the staterooms and flying bridges of these ships. Normal people just don't get a chance to actually sit and walk around on these things.

View from the Top o' the Yacht

Grills on the flying bridge are a ting apparently. They all had them.
It wasn't all out of reach, though. There was a guy outside the indoor portion in the convention center selling a catamaran with inflatable pontoons that came in one 98 lbs duffle bag for just around six grand. Inside, a fella was hawking these small round boats that could be plopped in your pick up bed. Fit out with a seat or two and an electric trolling mot0r the entire package was $2800. John is totally sold on this. Me? I'm sold on the mahogany  sailboat made by Cape Fear Community College's boat building class. They build boats (of course) every semester and then sell them for about the cost of the materials. I fell head over heels for this little sailboat, and with a $2000 asking price, this dream is well within reach.

Yeah. So. I need this.
The college also had its research vessel open for tours, during which we found one of John's friends who is in the CFCC Marine Science program in the pilot house. There were something like 200 vendors set up both inside the convention center and around the marina. We found a guy selling waterproof, floating Bluetooth speakers and I ended up buying one, as it turns out, for half the going price.

Everyone, from vendors to patrons to show staff to the captains of the water taxis, was as nice and friendly and happy as could be. It was full of people, but I hesitate to say crowded as it never seemed the huge number of fellow patrons slowed anything down or made it difficult to do anything we wanted when we wanted to do it.

As an example, there was a sailing school offering rides on their 27 foot sailboat. John saw the sign saying the next ride left in an hour and we stopped to ask if we could sign up. It was completely free with nothing but the softest sales job for the sailing school and sail boat club. We not only were able to sign up, but ended up as the only two on the trip. We sailed up and down the Cape Fear for almost an hour with two try really cool guys and had an absolute blast. It was a great way to top off the day.

I have to say it was a good day
This show could not have been handled better. It's the kind of thing that's going to become a destination. There simply aren't boat shows like this everywhere. My hat goes off to these people for completely doing it right and for giving John and I a day we won't soon forget.

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