At Pacific Sail Expo, Many Meetings of Like Minds

"Reporter's Notebook" from our April 26, 2007, CW Reckonings

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Some 14,000 people visited the docks at Jack London Square in Oakland, California, for the 11th annual Pacific Sail Expo. To view a photo gallery from this year's show, click here.Elaine Lembo

Doug Tiffany and Lukas Grone have never met, but they share at least one, no, make that two, common interests: cruising, and Lin and Larry Pardey. Oops, wrong again: They share three things in common, because they both ventured to Jack London Square and Pacific Sail Expo in Oakland, California, April 19, 2007, to indulge the first two pursuits.

That's how I caught up with them during the five-day event that ran from April 18-22. For Lukas, to meet the Pardeys, lifelong voyagers who've written The Book on the cruising life (a bunch of them as a matter of fact; www.landlpardey.com), was a bit surreal. "It's so fun to see you in person!" he exclaimed at their well-populated booth. "You're real!" When he wasn't reading the Pardeys' books and articles, many of the latter of which have appeared in CW over the years, Lukas, a resident of Los Angeles who's from Germany, was working on Magic Flute, his Mason 37. "You watch the videos, you read the books, then you meet them-wow!"

Indeed the Pardeys are real, as real as the approximately 13,000 show goers and 275 exhibitors who turned out for the 11th annual Strictly Sail Pacific show, according to early returns tabulated by Kevin Murphy, national show manager for Strictly Sail. Though the weather was a mix of sun, clouds, and rain, the event provided another important opportunity for sailors and vendors of boats, goods, and related services to exchange feedback, as well as ideas, news, and trends that will propel the industry forward. "It's a very important show for the West Coast," Murphy said. "It's the only all-sail show on the West Coast."

In two large tents and along marina docks, there were primers on how to perform yoga aboard, how to charge batteries with solar power, and how to convert galley stove tops to barbecue grills (with a little help from Liquid Smoke)-these, just a snatch from dozens of industry topics. Merchandisers sold everything from the newest production boat models to organically made permanent stain removers, bareboat charter vacations, fancy fender covers, liferafts, blocks, and Lewmar OneTouch Winch Handles. Marinas, schools, and clubs encouraged prospective sailors to join them on courses, daysails, weekend voyages, and overnight passages in the Bay area.

And though at times it seemed like the entire show crowd was crammed into the Pardeys' booth, other sailing authors were in evidence, signing their books and DVDs. Inside smaller tents lining the perimeters of booths, experts conducted seminars on everything from Digital Selective Calling to how to extend the life of lemons by wrapping them in aluminum foil. It's simply not possible to come through a sailboat show like this and leave without knowing more than you did when you bought the admission ticket.

For Doug Tiffany, Pacific Sail Expo wasn't a learning experience, it was a reunion. The owner of Water Witch, a 37-foot cutter out of Moss Landing, California, couldn't wait to see his old friends, the Pardeys. "I first met them in Port Klang, Malaysia," he told me. "We later caught up in Sausalito, then fast forward, I didn't see them until I ran into them at the wooden boat festival in Port Townsend, Washington, four years ago."

For a complete list of upcoming Strictly Sail and Sailfest Shows, consult the website (www.strictlysail.com).

To view a gallery of photos taken at this year's show, click here.