For the first time since we've been going to Strictly Sail Chicago at Navy Pier, I was giddy. Sure, I'd always gone along but my heart wasn't really in it. There were always cool booths, gorgeous new boats to step aboard, interesting seminars to attend but when you don't have a boat, all you can do is long for the day when you were officially a boat person, not just an interested passerby. This was finally our year. Actually, our first, since I'm sure next year will be even more fruitful! The day was pretty much perfect. I only wish we could have come back for Sunday's seminars and demos.
Strictly Sail is the only all sailboat show in the midwest, and so, one of the best places to find a variety of services and goods for the avid sailor and his vessel. They bring in the best/most interesting speakers, authors, experts in a variety of areas and you can hear them speak and meet them afterwards. Some are your regular joe's who've taken up the cruiser lifestyle, some are pioneers in sailing around the world, and some literally wrote the book on cruising.
Before we went, Josh looked at the speaker schedule and mapped out who we'd hear when, and we planned to walk the expo floor in between sessions. There were a few vendors we were specifically seeking out, Nature's Head and Air Head (more on those in a later post), West Marine, Larsen Marine (where we bought Interlude), and a few others. We got there as the doors were opening and had a little time before the first speaker so we wandered around the edges, planning our assault. It was packed!! The event spans Thursday-Sunday, and it seems Saturday is one of the busiest. We didn't mind the crowds though.
We listened to a family who cruised around the world with their three kids, departing from Chicago as we plan to do; two well regarded female cruisers, Jimmy Cornell, and a few others. It was wonderful to hear tales from all these people but also frustrating to have to wait a few more months before we can get Interlude back into the water to start our own adventures. I'm revved up and ready to do more exploring and learning on our boat. Hurry up, May 1!
We picked up a few items at the vendor booths while we were there too. I got a foul weather gear coat (as seen above), some deck shoes (both from West Marine, who ALWAYS have super deals at the boat show), and our life vests/harnesses. I'll talk more about those once we start using them on the boat, but they are expensive ($150 a pop--on sale. Yikes!) and necessary. I'm always a happy girl when I get new shoes, so you know, all in all, a great outing.
Every year it's a wonderful expo and if you've got the curiosity, I highly recommend checking it out. There are plenty of sailors at all levels and opportunities to get more plugged in with the sailing community even if you don't have your own boat.