Where to begin as my first post on Mitch’s sailing blog?
I grew up in Annapolis. I miss the sailing kayak terribly, very terribly, but I admit I like the comforts of an older cruising boat at 4 am. Another thing – I’m pretty sure I don’t want a big fancy boat (here I am sooo misunderstood). Women and sailing — what a topic — amusing, humbling, curious, and fraught with egg shells. Mechanics, functions and aesthetics. Boating financials. Well, the current topic is Mitch’s Annapolis Boat Show postings and the Show in general.
The Boat Show. For me, I attend the Show as I would attend a museum, or at least that is the idea. Just as in a museum, purchasing is not an option, so one can focus on learning and the beauty of the execution. I’m not there to dream about myself, and without that there is no wistfulness or envy. However, I can very easily dream about how something may have been built differently. Mitch often hears my oohs and aahhs and layers these into his own aspirations – but these responses are no different than the way I would ooh and aahh over a well-made building or an insightful painting at the Portrait Gallery. I have no intention or desire to buy an expensive boat. Instead, I go to the Sailboat Show to learn and see.
The Boat Show for me this year was about quality, variety and a source of ideas in case anything useful might be implemented in DIY mode (like how to fit that paper towel dispenser into the galley). Each year after looking at the 4th or 5th boat, the interiors all look the same. Here’s the formula: galley near the companionway; quarter-berth on other side of companionway; salon with table; V-berth forward; engine access under the companionway. Variations then begin from there, depending on boat size.
The exteriors seem to have a little more variety, although I am not educated enough about the functional differences to really know what to look for. Are the travelers mounted flush, on a raised molded-in base or suspended in air? What obstacles and steps are found along the path from helm to bow? So this year, knowing I would burn out after about the 4th or 5th boat, I wanted to see the boats for which I had the highest expectations first, before I wore out and they all became a blur. Ugly mis-fit seam in the rub-rail viewable from the dock? I didn’t bother to board it. Nice execution outside? That deserves a visit inside. Nice execution in the salon and galley furnishings? That deserves a visit to the engine room, if possible. Not every boat was set up to let a person look at what was under the hood.
For the first boat, Mitch had an appointment with the Gunboat. Otherwise I wouldn’t have boarded, since I already knew it was going to be super-fine and didn’t think I would learn much. But there was a surprise for me. The glossy wooden glass-like-clarity sole seemed different from what is seen on other boats. I asked how often it had to be treated. Perhaps an annual light sanding and re-coating? Such questions are best levied not at brokers on new boats, but at kind owners gracious enough to share their older boat with throngs of strangers, and that have lived on their boat for a number of years. The response was that they didn’t have to do anything. They said it was so strong, a dog had lived on it for quite some time and it remained scratch-free. Only when a heavy object was dropped, had it received a blemish in the form of a chip. The person I spoke to seemed a little unfamiliar with what was actually done to treat the flooring, not a surprise on such a large and expensive boat (i.e. the upkeep is more likely to be out-sourced). Nevertheless, Uh oh. This changes things for me. Our boat has a teak and holly sole that badly needs its 1985-vintage finish to be replaced. I’ve been trying to learn what to do, and had recently made some tentative decisions from browsing opinions on forums, YouTube and elsewhere. The best course of action after stripping seemed to have been to use a softer varnish than a harder one so that it could be easily repolished regularly, resulting in a glossier surface (instead of harder one that can’t be polished and gets duller with time as it gets scratched), and I needed to figure on doing at least 7 coats and sandings with careful dust control. Since I enjoy doing a little bit of polishing each visit, the polish-able softer finish that takes a glossy gleam seemed to be a good match for me. Given the glass-like clarity and hardness of the Gunboat’s sole, and the fact no wood grain topography was carried through to the surface, I now wonder if it was a type of poured epoxy and therefore impossible to refinish without total removal. Anyone know?
After that, we visited many other boats ranging from disappointing (no need to mention names) to very fine (e.g. Passport). I think the only thing I learned in these was that a hunch I had previously formed from browsing YachtWorld postings, seems to have been confirmed: Proper engine rooms are most likely to occur on boats < 50’ if they are center-cockpit designs. The only other really interesting thing I saw was the gang-valved fuel system in one of the Passport engine rooms. It reminded me of the torpedo room of the USS Torsk. Sadly, my photograph didn’t capture the tag labels as well as I would have liked.
This year there was no radio seminar. The rigging and power-management seminars were on different days. The little boy I saw last year with a fishing rod, trying to amuse himself on one of the docks as the crowds thronged by, with such a sad lonely look, wasn’t there this year. If it was ever a museum thing for him, he had no one to enjoy it with. There was no demonstration of the block-and-tackle mast ascension mechanism this year. Maybe that guy was just too darned worn out after demonstrating it over and over again last year. Now on our third contiguous year of the show, we actually are seeing a few more people that we recognize. A nice way to meet more is to go up on the outside upper deck of the Marriott at lunch. You will have to share a table, and it is a great way to meet people that have come from all over to be there. May one of our table-mates finally find that elusive J-boat mast boot thingey they have searched for for so long…
Oh, I’m not always consistent about everything I say. One thing that quickly takes me out of museum mode is…well… I confess if I was younger and stronger and crazier, I’d want a Moth.