Monday, February 17, 2014

Strictly Sail at the Miami Boat Show

John Kretschmer speaking at the Miami Boat Show
On Saturday morning, I took the train downtown alone and then walked to the Miamarina at Bayside to attend Strictly Sail at the Miami International Boat Show. Nan had wanted to go with me, but she was back in Wisconsin attending to her ailing mother and dealing with the terrible weather there.

I arrived just in time to see our friend John Kretschmer's talk, Force 10 - Storm Sailing Strategies. I have seen John speak a number of times, but I never tire of his stories and I always learn something new. What impressed me most was his progression of strategies to use as the weather worsens. Heaving-to, which essentially parks the boat and creates a protective "slick" to windward, is useful in all conditions unless there is the danger of a lee shore. Fore reaching, which is sailing a tight near reach with reefed sails, is the next strategy and is useful to maintain sea room or to make headway if the intended direction is to windward. The final strategy is to run before the waves and weather, with minimal sails or bare poles, but this requires diligent manual steering to prevent the boat from diving into the troughs. The hour went quickly and good questions followed. I caught up with John and his wife Tadji outside the tent and chatted briefly. John told me that his article about sailing the Mediterranean in a recent issue of Cruising World had won an award. I congratulated him and suggested that he let me post it on his website. He said he would check with the magazine and let me know, then he was off to a meeting with the Jeanneau people.

The Doyle StackPack at the Super Sailmakers booth
I wandered over to the Super Sailmakers booth to see about two of their products, the Doyle StackPack and the Tides Sailtrack System. The StackPack is a sail cover and lazy jack system that contains the sail as it's coming down the mast and controls it in a zippered nylon cover--no more leaping around a heaving deck piling your sail onto the boom with sail ties in your teeth! And the Sailtrack System replaces the mast's existing track with one that is virtually frictionless, making it possible for one person to hoist the sail easily from the cockpit using the aft-led halyard, a task that normally takes three strong people in our boat--one pulling hard on the halyard at the mast, one cranking on the winch, and one tailing--because there is so much friction on the existing track. Back in July 2012, Peter Grimm of Super Sailmakers had demonstrated these systems at the JK University workshop on blue water passage making I attended in Fort Lauderdale. Peter wasn't at the booth but Bob Meagher was, and he was happy to show me how it all worked and provide me with a discounted "boat show quote." I told him I would be placing an order right after we sail the boat up to Miami from Mexico this coming May.

My final stop was at the namesake booth of ATN Sailing Equipment, presided over by Etienne Giroire. Nan and I met Etienne at a party at John Kretschmer's house back in November, and after listening intently to John's boat show talk, I very much wanted to talk with Etienne about his patented Gale Sail, a super strong Dacron storm sail that hanks over a fully furled jib or staysail as a much safer alternative to a partially furled headsail, which could chafe its lines and blow open with disastrous results. Etienne also provided me with a discounted boat show quote, and I told him I would try to purchase the sail before we leave for Mexico in May. It could be useful for the upcoming trip.

There was much more to see, like all the brand-new sailboats flying their advertising streamers at the piers and all the discounted-but-still-expensive boat goodies, but I had seen what I came to see and I still had a long walk back to the train station.