I took my 5 year old daughter and my brothers family to the Southampton boat show for the day. It was awesome. For us the drive was about 3 hours or so. Long enough with 3 young excitable children in the car. When we got out the other end, we were most relieved.
The queues for the show entrance were fairly tame, and having pre-booked tickets online we were in before we knew it. The layout to the boat show is strange… you go through several smaller enclosures packed with toys and boating wares before you get to the real deal. It is like they are warming you up and teasing you in. It works.
It was like being a kid in a sweet shop. Where to go first?… The pontoons? Princess? Jet Ski’s? Kayaks? Dinghy’s? Chandlers? or just get to the point and head to Sunseeker!? In a chaotic fashion we made our way through all of these. The show was crowded, so hanging on to the children was essential. They were excited and had as much fun as the adults.
The grandiose Sunseeker display was incredible. The boats are literally jaw dropping. Removing my shoes I climbed aboard and had to take the helm. The touch of everything was perfect, the leather was immaculate, every surface was shiny and well finished, every detail was attended to, and you knew if you were aboard this boat and at sea, you would want for nothing. Everything aboard was just so lavish and luxurious, but also (dare I say it) a little crass. You can see why this is a choice of the super rich. I had a nosey around 3, and I believe the ‘cheapest’ was about £2.5m +VAT.
Princess was equally as impressive, a beautiful display of wind turbines was overshadowed by a huge Princess. This boat was by appointment only, so no viewing for the lowly like of us today.
Down on the pontoons, oh my, the yachts were lined up in all their glory. I wandered about, mind struck by the beauty of some of the boats. Most were appointment only, and any others you daren’t enter with 3 children in tow! I spotted the perfect boat for me, but only to find out that it comes with a cool £625k price tag. Most disappointing.
There was an incredible old sailing ship called Artemis moored alongside one of the pontoons. A nod to yesteryear, this boat was incredibly busy, but well worth jostling with the crowds to have a look around. The sheer volume of ropes was quite frightening for anyone with the slightest sense of OCD, and when you looked up you could just imagine how incredible this ship would look with all of it’s countless sails unfurled. She had been fabulously restored, with impeccable varnish and immaculate paintwork.
The boat show is a long day. We were just browsing, drawing inspiration, being nosey and just enjoying ogling all of the toys that we desire so much. If you are after something specific though, book an appointment and have a plan. If not, you will likely lose yourself on route to a fantastic kayaking stand or the racing dinghies that you never knew you wanted. If you are after something specific and don’t have a plan, you will struggle to stay focused!
Some fabulous artwork was on display at the show too. One particular artist caught my attention, as he created the most incredible oil scapes in front of your very eyes. His work is heavily textured, and he uses the most vivid colours and undertones of gold and silver. His name is Stephen Lee, and if you are after some nautical themed artwork, do check him out.
I would say that we saw about 50% of what the show had to offer. Hardy boat show visitors are advised to take two full days to explore. There are so many nuggets and gems that are not to be missed.