I spent today with Jack and Rob at the Southampton International Boat Show. It was super fun and, besides seeing stunning boats, there was so much to do and see that was included in the ticket – I even went for a dive!
We took the train as the entrance is only a ten-minute walk from Southampton station and the journey provided plenty of time for us to have a good catchup. Entry was quick and, once in, we took a minute to check out the map and attractions schedule. Luckily, the booking booths for all attractions was nearby – between the Watersports and Dinghy Zone – so the boys booked us on a high-speed RIB ride, a sailing trip and dip in the dive pool.
Exploring the show, Rob absolutely loved all the paddleboard gear in the Watersports Zone and tested some in the Try a Paddle pool. We had a look through the Dinghy and Classic & Day Boat Zones, taking it all in. The boys had fun checking out the newest gadgets in Ocean Hall in Mayflower Park and some exhibitors told us that the environment zone was new this year. It was great to see all the innovations that help our planet and protect marine life.
We stopped at the Guinness Bar for a drink and some food before heading out to the marina. Absolutely loved the variety of street food trucks – Jack and Rob got their juicy burgers, while I wouldn’t have needed to bring snacks, there were enough vegan options. Lunch in hand, we headed to the Foredeck Stage where Andrew Curtis was talking about his adventures in rowing the Atlantic as part of the Talisker Atlantic challenge.
Looking at the schedule, I appreciated that there are lots of opportunities to learn on the agenda – from safety to environmental facts. The organisers even host a Women in the Marine Industry Day and a Careers Day. Although we’re out for the first, I’ve told my brother about Careers Day.
Having finished our food, we wondered through the marina on our way to the On The Water Zone. It was truly amazing seeing authentic historic ships docked next to massive super yachts. Then, we got on a boat using the Try-a-boat with Flexisail offer. Ours was the Dragon Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 3 and the instructor did get some speed when the wind shot into the sail! With my life jacket on, I felt super safe though and it was so much fun! Afterwards, when we did the RIB ride, we shot over the water at 46 mph with sea spray all around us.
We stopped on the Borrow a Boat Quarterdeck Bar & Restaurant for a drink. The view is just stunning – you overlook the entire marina while being in the perfect spot to see what’s going on at On The Water Stage. They’ve had jet skis doing loops and a fliteboard that literally FLYS over the water, totally silent and zero emissions – talk about new era technology! Jack and Rob are well keen to give it a go on holiday next year.
Finally, it was time for our dive. Neither of us had tried it before, so it was really cool to be able to do it in a safe environment. The instructions were clear and it felt really surreal having the water close in above me while I’m able to breathe. Definitely interested to try it again somewhere local. I’ll have a look at onthewater.co.uk – it’s where Rob finds his paddleboard spots – I’m sure I’ll find a local dive school.
After a final stop at the Guinness Bar and grabbing a snack after all the excitement, we headed home. I definitely had more action and activity than I had anticipated from visiting a boat show!