Having just returned home I feel it is fitting to sum up my two-week adventure in Southampton after the end of the holiday. As stated in my previous food blog, our French holiday came to a speedy end in the beautiful Iles Chaussey. Moored between two buoys, a Grand Banks, and a bunch of pickled Frenchmen, we spent three days swimming off the boat, wandering the island, and having lunch at the sole restaurant. The lack of phone signal, Wi-Fi, and even fresh water were solaces; this collection of tiny islands is paradise.
On returning home and washing all my salty clothes, I promptly got in my little car and drove to Southampton for the opening of the Southampton Boat Show. This year, like the last, I was working for Aqua-Star motorboats, which is what Patience, my parent’s boat is.
At 6am on Friday 12th I crawled out of the student bed I was borrowing from a friend and made my way to the docks for 8am. Exhibitor’s passes on, the Aqua-stars were to be found in the marina. The 43 and the 49-foot boats present were cleaned and polished every morning before the show opened, after which we would be given bacon butties, if we’d been very good. The show opened promptly at 10am every day, and it ran for ten days. Every morning a voice would come over the tannoy and recite a ‘daily rib tickler’ to amuse the exhibitors before the show opened.
It was an interesting ten days of people watching. I, for one, love to people watch, and standing on the back of a boat waiting to give tours as people wander past is the perfect time for it. The weekends generally brought the tourists. Families and couples who are not boaters and would just like to have a look and maybe a dream came on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, while the more serious and slightly older boaters came mid-week. On the whole our visitors were lovely, being generally interested, controlling their children, and taking us seriously. However, there are always exceptions to every rule. Some people come aboard without acknowledging our hello and welcomes, merely walking on and looking round without a word. Some people simply stand and look in an exhausted, dreamy sort of way out of the front window, while we try to talk to them and keep a watchful eye on the runaway children scampering from bow to stern of the boats. There was even one man who came aboard, declared he didn’t like it at all and left, then proudly stating to his friends that he ‘couldn’t get away quick enough.’ This is rude.
Also interesting are the things people say while aboard the boats. From the quirky (‘the taps have actual water!!), to the opinionated (a young boy’s view: ‘the Aqua-stars are soooo ugly!’), to the ridiculous (‘why are these steps here? I don’t like these steps.’ Er, the steps are there because you must have a way of getting from the outside to the inside of the boat. Perhaps a slide, madam?). However, all these we sweep aside as amusing or mildly irritating, but when someone, typically a man, comes on board and directs questions to my male colleague while I am giving them a tour, that is what I really hate. The assumption that because I am a young girl, I don’t know anything about engines, or bow thrusters, or generators is ridiculous – I do! My aim was to smoothly answer the question myself, refusing to be undermined purely because of my sex and my age.
However, I’m being a bore. Apart from the few who, you can maybe tell, mildly irritated me, the visitors were lovely. Some of them own Aqua-stars, many of them are interested in Aqua-stars, some had never heard of Aqua-stars, but we sent them away admiring Aqua-stars.
At the close of the show each evening at 6.30pm, and sometimes before when it got quiet, the sound of corks popping all over the marina was heard, and the exhibitors set to relaxing with a refreshing glass or two.
One evening the Aqua-star team were invited aboard a friend’s Aqua-star, which came and picked us up from the end of the pontoon, much to the show patrol’s displeasure. On our sail across to Cowes, corks flew off the side of the boat, and we were treated to a fantastic meal in The Coast restaurant, which ended in our sailing back to Southampton at 11pm.
As the final day of the boat show came to a close, the remaining few bargains were snapped up, and I was given a tour around the beautiful Swallow boats, which I promised I would mention in this blog (check these boats out for a fantastic use of space!), and the last corks were popped in triumphant exhaustion. It was a fantastic show this year for Aqua-star, but also for me personally. I met some wonderful people, I was wined and dined all week, treated so well, and I got to mess around on boats in the sunshine for ten days, what more could you want? Plus, I was even taught how to make a prosecco cork fly – that’s what’s more.
I’d like to thank Geoff, Tony, Gary, Ella, Mike and everyone else who made these ten days really special. Oh, and I’d probably better tip my hat to the North-Line guys for providing excellent entertainment. Roll on Southampton 2015!