Reflections from Shore: Ben’s Story P.2

8 Jan

The view of the 2019 Annapolis Sailboat show as seen from ISBJORN’s mooring ball

Life on the Ball

By early October, I had been living on the boat for two months. Life on Mooring #22 was great. I loved showing my new home to friends and family, as well as getting to know the community of Downtown Annapolis. I went running through town often, exploring the Navel academy campus and the surrounding area. I tried as many different restaurants and bars as I could within budget, my favorite being $10 pizza Mondays at Foxes Den! The weather and leaves were starting to change; a sleeping bag was a must-have come bedtime. On the first cold night, I rummaged around and found Andy’s leftover sleeping bag from the Arctic Adventure of 2018 – and it BLEW my mind. About 3/4 down the bottom of the bag, there’s a zipper. I was confused – did I have the bag backward? And then it hit me. I unzipped the zipper, shuffled around a bit, and stuck my feet out into the fresh October air. I smiled. I laughed! True happiness, freedom!! I had never experienced this kind of bliss and comfort before in a sleeping bag. When I look back at my experience with 59 North in 50 years, I’ll be thinking about that bag!

So, back to early October. I lay in my sleeping bag, feet in (it does get cold in the mornings!) when I woke to a BANG. My eyes fired open, and I half-hopped half-slid out of my bag and bunk. No time to dress – in four quick steps, I was climbing the companionway ladder to investigate the cause of my disturbed slumber. With a knotted stomach, I tumbled out from under the dodger to give ISBJORN a good, hard look. When nothing immediately jumped out at me, I risked a glance around. The other boats in the mooring field floated peacefully. I glanced towards town and found what I was looking for. 

The view of the 2019 Annapolis Sailboat show as seen from ISBJORN’s mooring ball

The view of the 2019 Annapolis Sailboat show as seen from ISBJORN’s mooring ball

The 2019 Annapolis Boat Show

The Annapolis Boat Show had begun – at least kind of. For the next week, I listened and watched as ten small whalers with large 80hp Evinrudes and front rubber bumpers built a football-fields worth of artificial docking. By the time they were done, ISBJORN was only 50 yards from the closest dock. Front row seats! The weekend before the Sailboat show, I watched the Annapolis Powerboat Show assemble and disassemble over a single weekend. 

The arrival of the Annapolis boat show brought with it my favorite part of working for 59 North, and my favorite thing about this time spent aboard in Annapolis. It brought friends!! Andy & Mia returned from Sweden to our beloved ICEBEAR, and the rest of the team converged upon Annapolis to prepare for the Sailboat Show. It was a fantastic week of working alongside my mentors, meeting friends of the business, and enjoying family dinners aboard a different boat every night! 

The boat show was a wild time. Each day started around 6:30 AM when fellow 59 North Mate Emma Garschagen and I would wake up to prepare breakfast and coffee for our guests aboard ISBJORN. We had a rotating cast of past crew staying aboard, like a floating B&B! After setting up breakfast (and making toast when we felt fancy), Emma and I took the dingy across the harbor and into the boat show. We boarded ICEBEAR around 8:00 AM, where we met the rest of the team mid-breakfast. ICEBEAR was full during the show, playing host to Brian & Brady of SV Delos, our new relief mate Jenni Hellpap and her husband Ryan, Andy’s sister Katie and her husband Kevin, and finally Andy and Mia.

59 North Mate Jenni Hellpap - Working hard or hardly working?

59 North Mate Jenni Hellpap – Working hard or hardly working?

Emma and I gave ICEBEAR a quick spa treatment every morning, wetting decks, scrubbing off a bit of dirt, and adding some flemish to the dock lines. We finished set-up with the merch table and sat back down to wait for the flood gates to open. 

The show doors burst open at 10:00 AM, and ICEBEAR attracted a healthy amount of guests. To greet everyone, give tours, and share information, Andy organized a kind of watch schedule for the show. 2-hour shifts, from 7 AM-6 PM; shared with the fantastic people I had been getting to know over dinner and during the day the week before. 

I met a dazzling array of characters from all walks of life at the boat show. It was great meeting so many different types of sailors: older, younger, experienced sailors, and those new to the sport. I was surprised to learn that some podcast listeners were already familiar with me personally! I even signed a book.


Boat Show: Some Key Take-Aways

The boat show provided a unique window into the yachting industry. I learned a lot about the industry by simply walking around and talking to people. My PR & Marketing side was excited to observe how different parts of the sector interacted, who they targeted, and what their purpose at the boat show was. The largest and flashiest displays came from large yacht producers such as Beneteau and Jeanneau, each showing the latest and greatest from their consumer lines. These large-scale producers were the only ones with multiple boats in the show. 

Other boat-builders brought along examples of their most recent work as well, my favorite being Vondee Globe Hero Pete Goss’s Garcia 45. (Pete’s been on the podcast! Check it out here).

The Garcia is a compact yet hardcore expedition vessel. The interior storage is immense and large enough to fit four-five people, plus gear. The aluminum hull is decked with a brown rubber-cork concoction that requires zero maintenance and feels grippy underfoot. A sucker for aesthetics, I loved the wrap-around pilothouse windows, thick aft arch, and water-tight companionway. That baby can go anywhere!

Additional Notes:

  • Sailing Youtube and Media Influencers are getting huge! Nearly all the people who showed up at ICEBEAR were already familiar with 59 North through the podcasts. Brian and Brady of S/V Delos fame were SWAMPED with people. Other influencers such as La Vagabond, Totem, and Tulas Endless Summer were omnipresent at the show; people couldn’t get enough of these enthusiastic adventurers. 

  • Planning a boat show is hard. Half the show was underwater by day two! An unlucky combination of easterly winds blowing in from offshore and a high tide resulted in mass flooding for two days. Vendors were submerged, and ICEBEAR’s deck stood six feet above the dock! Many vendors saw reduced foot traffic and exposure due to the flooding. I did notice one liferaft vendor floating around the show, making the best of the situation.

  • Serious buyers and business people arrived early during the first two days of the show to beat the crowds. The latter two days of the show brought families and more casual show-goers. 

ICEBEAR’s new sail cover making a statement during the boat show

ICEBEAR’s new sail cover making a statement during the boat show

The boat show grind was exhausting yet so, so rewarding. Every person I met was honestly an inspiration – full of ambition and greater goals, busy actualizing their passions. It was terrific to be surrounded by so many positive, dream-chasing individuals. 

The show was an ideal setting to strengthen my bond with the 59 North Team. I became closer with my fellow pirates through the grind of the show, family meals, and the occasional happy hour :) 

Lastly, I was ecstatic to see my parents make the trip up from Washington, D.C. to sit-in on a 59 North panel discussion and a screening of ’80 North’, our upcoming Arctic adventure mini-series. After the events, I was able to show them both ICEBEAR and ISBJORN. It was important for me to share this part of my life with them; I’m proud of my involvement with 59 North & any achievement of mine is largely thanks to them. A huge thanks to everyone who made them feel at home, especially Emma, who took good care of them at the panel while I was working the show aboard ICEBEAR!

Thanks for reading this installment of reflections from shore. The next one’s a biggie: My first passage as Mate with 59 North aboard ISBJORN!

Until then, 

HOLD-FAST! 

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This article was syndicated from 59º North Sailing // 59º North Blog

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