Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:52PM - Comments: (6)
The St. Petersburg Boat Show drew about two dozen new sailboats to Tampa Bay last week—not a big showing but enough to catch a whiff of current trends. We’ve seen a steady decline in the number of sailboats represented at the show since the powerboat and sailboat shows were rolled together a few years back. The show is clearly dominated by powerboats now. Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile stop if you’re in the market for one of the Florida-built boats—Catalina, Hunter Marlow, Island Packet, and Gemini. Other sailboat builders present were Jeanneau, Beneteau, Falcon Marine, International Marine, Fountaine Pajot, Mondo Marine, and Amel.
One of the most encouraging signs at this year's show was the number of young people looking at sailboats. I thought maybe show organizers had handed out a wad of free passes to the four universities in the area, but after speaking with a few of the young attendees, I realized that they were indeed chasing the dream of going cruising—now or in the near future.
That's not to say they were in the new boat market. Most of them were looking for boat show deals on gear and ideas on how to improve their old Pearsons, Cape Dories, and Cals, but seeing so many young faces was encouraging nevertheless. I sense that the growing library of blogs and YouTube videos created by young people engaged in the adventure of a lifetime are gradually filtering down to other sailors. Is cruising going viral among younger sailors? I hope so. Given the state of the economy and the lack of opportunity for newly minted grads, I wouldn’t blame them for shoving off. The economic doldrums of the eighties was one of the reasons Theresa and I took off in our twenties.
Regardless of the reasons for the notable turnout of young people at St. Pete, it was encouraging. A sustainable future will depend greatly on the emotional connection that future generations have with the ocean, and sailing is one of the surest ways to build that connection. And who knows, a few years vagabonding on the high seas might even lead to a half decent job.
If you’ve got a favorite blog of a young family or crew worth profiling, send the link to email@example.com and I’ll see what we can do to help promote them.
Here's one to start with SV Delos, an Abel Maramu 53 sailed by a multinational crew: