US Sailboat Show 2017 Review

We left home bright and sunshiney early on Saturday, 10/7/2017, en route to the US Sailboat Show.  The traffic was pretty light, surprisingly, and the drive was pretty uneventful except for a piece of a tractor trailer hitting the windshield of Josh’s truck, clipping along at 70mph.  Hopefully it will be fixable and not require a whole new windshield!  (Good news, ya’ll!  Windshield was fixed on 10/16/2017 for only $167!  Woohoo!!!)

We parked offsite, of course, and took the shuttle bus to the show.  (Not featured in the picture was the really stinky German Shepherd riding up front that everyone’s looking at.)

Our first mission was to find where our First Sail Workshop was being held, since class was scheduled to begin at 11am and we arrived at the boat show at 10:30am. (Alexis wrote about her experience in the First Sail Workshop here.)

After the First Sail Workshop, we set out to board a number of boats that we are interested in and were open to boarding at the boat show.  Saturday was a hugely busy day at the boat show, as the weather was absolutely beautiful and the forecast called for rain on Sunday, so it was absolutely packed!  Many boats had lengthy lines of people, waiting to board them.  Also, the boat manufacturers were requiring people to provide information before boarding the boats.  Nothing extravagant – name, e-mail address and zip code – but the collection of information bottlenecked the boarding process significantly.  But, we were successful in getting on seven boats on Saturday to check them out.

Beneteau First 22 – The Beneteau First 22 was the sailboat that we used during our First Sail Workshop. Beneteau First 22 was a small sailboat, designed for 4 to 6 students while they are learning how to sail.  We had to include the Beneteau First 22 in the list of boats that we were on because it was the first sailboat that I had ever been on.

Seawind 1160 Lite – The Seawind 1160 Lite was the second sailboat that we boarded during the sailboat show. The Seawind offered plenty of space inside with a galley down configuration in the one hull. The other hull contained a large master suite, with a bathroom and large standing shower and a large master stateroom. The Seawind 1160 Lite also gave us our first experience with catamaran’s trampolines and we loved it!  It’s one major downfall for us is that in order to steer, you have to look through the salon.  Visibility isn’t great for us, especially considering how large the boat is and how inexperienced we will be.

Gemini Legacy 35 – Next on the list of boats we boarded was a Gemini Legacy 35.  Josh really wanted to explore the Legacy 35 because the beam width allows it to be docked within a normal sized slip.  Unfortunately, neither of us liked it all that much.  There were no trampolines on the Legacy 35 and that was kind of a bummer.  Again, navigating meant looking through the salon to the front of the boat.  This one had previously been on our list of boats to consider but was removed in May and will stay off the list.

Lagoon 380 – Next up was the Lagoon 380.  The Lagoon 380 has been on our list for quite some time.  We weren’t disappointed by the layout, size or space that the Lagoon 380 offered, though we didn’t plan to be.  We had researched Lagoon 380’s extensively before going to the boat show.  The downside for the Lagoon 380 for us is the cockpit due to being down in the cockpit instead of on top of the cockpit.  Not necessarily a dealbreaker, but, a significant consideration.

Leopard 40 – Then we boarded the Leopard 40.  And Alexis fell in love.  The size of the cockpit in the Leopard 40 was incredible.  We’ve also done a considerable amount of research on the Leopard 40 before boarding it at the boat show.  We were not disappointed.  This one was Alexis’ favorite of the weekend.  If we decide to go with a sailing catamaran, there is a good chance that the Leopard 40 (or something very similar) will be our choice.

Maverick 440 – Out of curiosity we decided to board a Maverick 440.  The interior felt regal, almost too regal for us.  The wood was dark throughout the boat, taking away from the light airiness that the windows provided.  It wasn’t a bad thing that the owner’s were on the boat, but, it seemed like we were intruding on some type of social event they were having.  Alexis got boxed in the galley by the inconsiderate owner, fixing drinks for his company, and not caring at all that boat show attendees were attempting to view the boat.  The Maverick 440 was not the boat for us.

Bali 4.0 – We boarded a Bali 4.0 next.  She was beautiful.  But I don’t know the conversion rate between Euro and the U.S. dollars but I’m pretty sure she was too expensive. The extended cockpit / salon was definitely the highlight of this boat.  But, unless we find one hell of a deal, she’s out of our financial reach.

Valiant 40 – The was the last boat we boarded on Saturday.  The Valiant 40 was in the brokerage cove and needed some TLC.  But, she was a good specimen of a typical monohull.  The Valiant 40 was the first monohull that we were on.  The wood on the interior was very dark and added to the cave-like feel below deck.  She was, however, more spacious inside than we both expected.  The Valiant 40 wasn’t the boat for us, but, opened our eyes to considering other monohulls as options.

We left the boat show around 5pm, pretty hot and exhausted, and headed to check into our hotel.  Check ins for this particular hotel (which I later found out was actually called the “Hillside Quick Serve and Motel”) were only accepted between 3pm and 9pm.  And we soon found out why.

Because we were insanely late with reserving a room for Saturday night, our typical choices – Holiday Inn or Best Western – weren’t available. offered reservations for the “Hillside Motel” for $115 a night, which wasn’t ideal, but, kind of the only option without a long drive.  So, I made the reservation and paid for a room with a king size bed.  When we arrived, we found a note on the motel’s office door that instructed motel guests to “check in at the gas station next door.”  The cashier at the gas station informed me that despite reserving and paying for a room with a king size bed, the motel did not have such a thing and, instead, we would be getting a room with one “queenish sized” bed.  Or, she willingly offered, we could cancel our reservation and go somewhere else.  If we cancelled, though, we would still be charged for the room since it was less than 24 hour notice of cancellation.  GREAT.  It was pretty obvious that we would be staying at the Hillside Motel.  The cashier swiped my card for the room and then informed me that before she could give me the key, I would need to provide a $50 cash deposit.  And the gas station didn’t have an ATM.  But, the cashier optimistically offered, I could walk to the liquor store next door and use their ATM.  An ATM which, of course, only gave $20 bills.  I returned to the gas station with the deposit and obtained the key to our room.  The cashier reminded us that the gas station would be closing at 9pm and, after that, motel guests were on their own as there was no motel staff.  And, guests couldn’t check out until the gas station opened at 7am the next morning in order to get the $50 cash deposit from underneath the gas station’s cash register.  Does it get any better, you ask?  Why OF COURSE IT DOES!

We opened the door to our room and feasted our eyes upon this…

A room that, at one time, held two double beds.  One of which had been removed, leaving one double bed and a headboard still affixed to the wall where the other bed used to be.  Two curiously stained, used-to-be-white folding chairs.  A television which received exactly one channel – FXX.  An air conditioner that was set at 65° and had the adjustment knob broken off, rendering it completely unable to be adjusted.  And no telephone.

Since we hadn’t eaten dinner before checking into the motel, we got back in the truck and headed to The Jetty for dinner.  The wind had kicked up and the water was intensely choppy.  We were in our happy place and didn’t mind too much.  We sat on the dock and had a great dinner.  After dinner, we weighed our options and agreed that we’d go back to the hotel, try to sleep, get up early to get the hell out of there as early as we could.

Sunday morning, 7:02am, and we were checked out of the Hillside Motel, never to return again.  We’ve stayed at some pretty suspicious, skanky places but this one took the cake!  We had breakfast at The Jetty and decided we would get tickets to head back to the boat show to do some more investigations.  The weather Sunday was absolutely oppressive.  It felt like it wanted to rain SO BADLY but just wouldn’t commit to making it happen.  Somewhere along our travels, we saw that the humidity was a tropical 91%.  We made the most of it and boarded another 5 boats on Sunday.

Beneteau Oceanis 38 – The Beneteau Oceanis 38 was the first new monohull that we boarded.  While Josh considered it to be suitable, Alexis didn’t love the long, narrow feel below deck.  On the upside, though, there were a lot of windows below deck and a ton of natural light.

Beneteau Oceanis 41.1 – The Beneteau Oceanis 41.1 was surprisingly spacious below deck and had a good sized cockpit.  The two cabin, one head layout could be perfect for us with the area for a third cabin that was additional storage instead of a bunk.  Access to the engine below the companionway staircase was great and made Josh really happy.  Josh is pleased to report that this will be the first monohull that is added to our boats to consider list.

Beneteau Oceanis 45 – Next up was the Beneteau Ocean 45.  This is where things got weird.  Alexis kind of loved it and wasn’t sure what to do about those feelings.  Below deck was incredibly spacious, with plenty of windows and natural light.  The cockpit was huge and offered good visibility around the boat.  The companionway stairs were wide and were more like true stairs and very much NOT ladder-like.  This is the second monohull that will be added to our boats to consider list.

Beneteau Oceanis 48 – The Beneteau Oceanis 48 was similar in layout to the Oceanis 45.  The layout was great, but, the Ocean 48 felt like more room than we really needed or wanted.  The other point to mention about the Oceanis was that there was some weird stuff going on in the master stateroom.  The shower and sink were positioned in the corner of the stateroom, while the toilet was stuffed into a closet in the opposite corner.  It was kind of weird, and not something we think we want.

Beneteau Sense 51 – Monohull + Catamaran = Excellence?  There’s really not a better way to describe the Beneteau Sense 51.  A broker at the show said the Sense 51 was designed to mimic a catamaran, while remaining a monohull, and he was dead on.  The cockpit was hugely spacious and more open like a catamaran cockpit.  Below deck, space was not a problem.  The galley had an island and the salon had a chaise lounge.  The Sense 51 also offered an office, which no other boat we’ve looked at has had.  If the Sense 51 more in line with our financial target, we’d be all over it.  But, unless we hit the lottery, it’s not going on the list.

Overall, the boat show was a great experience and afforded us the opportunity to board a number of boats that were on our list, as well as giving us some new options to add to our list.  Josh walked away from the boat show feeling pretty good about things, as he had accomplished a pretty huge goal – getting Alexis to at least consider the possibility of a monohull sailboat.

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