Wow, what a day! We went to the Southampton International Boat Show and even the teens loved it! It was our first visit, so we weren’t sure what to expect. We’ve seen so much advertising for it every year – this time round, we decided to give it a try and so glad we did!
Parking was easy with the car park being at West Quay Shopping Centre and the entrance was just across the road. We had pre-booked our tickets along with the attractions included in the ticket price, we wanted try everything and to make sure we got a space.
Having stopped by an airstream turned coffee truck, we took a minute to study the map. First up was the Watersports Zone. They actually had a small pool where you could try paddleboarding! Harry and the girls gave it a try, it was too early in the day for me to face wearing a wetsuit. Nobody fell in – not for lack of trying between Eva and Tilly though.
In the Dinghy Zone, we all had a go in the simulator and got really excited about our trials later in the afternoon. From there, we headed through the Day and Classic Boat Zone. Harry was very enthusiastic discussing the craftsmanship aspects of some of the older boats with the exhibitors.
A quick walk through Ocean Hall showed us the latest marine technology, along with beach wear made from recycled plastics or handmade bags & home accessories – the wide variety of products was really nice to see. From there, we headed to the marina. Seeing Europe’s largest purpose-built show marina filled with all types of boats, from historic to yachts and from sailing to power boats, we didn’t know where to look first. We even were allowed to come on board a few.
Ready for lunch, we were spoiled for choice. Eva was pleased with her vegan burger and Tilly got a duck wrap. Harry and I were keen to try the Borrow a Boat Quarterdeck Bar & Restaurant, so we could actually sit down. The view was something else! Right at the waterfront, we had perfect seats to watch the action on the On The Water Stage.
Finally, it was time for Eva and me to try dinghy sailing. The team at Get-afloat in partnership with Rockley Watersports was great and the instructions were easy to follow, even as total novices. Harry and Tilly had opted for a more action-packed alternative and they loved their powerboat trip with Try-a-boat in partnership with Flexisail.
After the excitement, we did a 20-minute mini cruise – it made us appreciate how big the show actually is! Back on land, we were ready for a coffee and a sweet treat, so we headed towards the street food in Mayflower Park. Once everybody had their selection, we stopped at the Foredeck Stage to hear about solo sailing adventures.
Last point on today’s agenda was the dive pool. It was the girls’ first go at diving and they did so well – now we’ve started something! Worn out by a day out in the fresh air, we wandered back to the car and agreed that we should have visited sooner. We had so much fun, we’ll have a look at onthewater.co.uk for water activities near us.