William Mills recounts a visit to the Southampton Boat Show 2017 and the stands he visited.
Southampton has remarkably good rail links and my journey from Brighton took less than two hours including the twenty minute walk from Southampton Central station to the show’s Mayflower Park venue.
Once inside the show’s atmosphere was easy to absorb with its multitude of stands and their bustling crowds.
My first stop was Europa/Tohatsu dinghies. As I used to own 3.8 inflatable dinghy weighing around 40kg I’ve puzzled over whether a RIB is a better choice ever since.
So I’m particularly interested in the new aluminium hulls. The 3.0 aluminium RIB on display weighs 46 kg as opposed to around 100 kg for a conventional GRP one.
Added to this was the further weight saving of the new direct injection engines. Tohatsu’s 20 HP four stroke carburettor model is a hefty 55 kg to lift, whereas their new DI models are 12 kg lighter, slimmer, and with a better centre of gravity.
However at 43kg it’s still heavier than my old 15 HP two stroke Mariner which weighed just 34kg.
In my younger days I once worked at a mill and used to lug around 32kg sacks of flour. It is worth mentioning that pre 1939 a full sack weighed 128kg, and this was split into two 64 kg half sacks to enable women to lift them during the war years.
These days, for me, anything above 25kg requires a trolley.
My next visit was Kaskelot, a Danish three masted traditional sailing ship which it was possible to see around and ideal if one wants to shoot an episode of Treasure Island.
It was dwarfed by a modern liner moored nearby, and astern was a 30m Princess motor yacht whose sleek black windows made it a veritable palace with a distinct tang of gin.
Next was the Amel 55 which had a well thought out cockpit, but down below it had too many sharp edges to be really comfy.
The marinas were out in force and Premier Marinas’ stand provided a welcome cup of coffee and a delicious cake as they assured me that Brighton was the most dredged marina in Christendom. (See Yachting Monthly October letters p 13)
However the stands of most interest turned out to be the ones offering sailing trips both as holidays and sea schools.
A good development was the advertising of own cabin accommodation on board which is really vital for an enjoyable trip. Let’s hope it becomes an industry wide standard. Many of the courses were accepting people up to the age of 65 so it’s never too late as they say.
And finally, a most enjoyable encounter with the Royal Air Force Yacht Club. Always a pleasure to interact with, the RAFYC volunteers were informative, matter of fact, and fun to be with.
I headed home in fine spirits.