It's that time of year - HPO dinner followed by visit to the London Boat Show. The show was quite quiet today (Wednesday 12 January) which wasn't what our hard working colleagues on the LSC stand wanted (C85 North Hall, in the new section of Excel). But of course they were cheerful and welcoming as always.
The show seemed to be trying harder (and I think succeeding) in appealing to a wider range of visitors. The Pool where you can sail small dinghies with the help of a battery of fans (air blowers not football supporters) had some keen future sailors milling about in it - one very young lady extremely well dressed in Breton sweater and yachting cap had clearly decided it was a fashion opportunity as well as a sporting one.There's a stand with a full size demo of cruising chute handling, and the radio controlled model yachts let you learn all about racing techniques without getting wet and cold - what's not to like? And the only stand I saw with a tasselled rope across the entrance saying "By appointment only" was the Range Rover one, so the boat companies, even including the posh Oysters and Sunseekers, were clearly welcoming all comers.
I think I found the answer to the UK's housing shortage. If Sunseeker can build a stand of that size for a boat show, they should be able to knock up a few sizable blocks of flats on their days off with no trouble.
The stands I visited were pleasingly well-informed too. MDL and Premier marinas answered some quite technical questions about the quality of diesel they supply without batting an eyelid (watch this space for an in depth story about new bio-diesel regulations and how they affect yachtsmen in the next few days).
I managed to restrict my credit card damage to useful stuff like a new 2011 Almanac and some charts and a pilot book for the South Brittany cruise in June-July (it should be a great cruise, why not sign up here). The new edition, just published, of the RCC Pilotage Foundation book on what is now called Atlantic France looks an excellent job.
The layout of the show is improved too. When you go in the carpet colours hit you in the eye, but the reason is revealed when you look at the show guide. The areas of the guide are colour keyed to the carpet, and it works well. The vast acreage of Excel can be a disorienting place, and short of issuing all visitors with chartplotters to find their way around this is a good step forward. Second hand boats, on the pontoon outside is another welcome development, though the number and range, especially of sailing boats is very disappointing this year. Maybe that will improve if the idea catches on.
So I recommend a visit, and if you go, please call in on our stand C85 North Hall and give moral support to our recruiters who do a sterling job.