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Toronto Boat Show Review, January 2011.
By George Czerny,
Sandpiper Owner # 377.

The second-last time I saw Wally Moran he was standing in the cockpit of “Gypsy Wind” his 34-foot sailboat. I was standing on the pier alongside Collingwood’s award-winning development, “The Shipyards” and Wally and I were swapping sailboat stories.

He looked a lot shorter then, since he was afloat aboard his boat and the pier at The Shipyards area is well above “Gypsy Wind’s” deck level.

Recently, I saw Wally again, this time standing tall in front of an audience in the Presentation Theatre at the Toronto International Boat Show (TIBS). He was one of a number of guest speakers at the boat show and his topic: The Intracoastal Waterway: Heading south from the Great Lakes to Paradise.

Wally knows a lot about the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) he has made that trip 15 times and in between mooring in such places as Colllingwood and Cuba he has sailed the Great Lakes, the ICW and the Caribbean.

I have been attending the TIBS for about as many years as John Nichols has been on-air with The Peak FM 95.1FM – for the record, that’s 40 years in John’s case – and always find it a source of fascination and interesting things. I had thought of dropping in at the media room this year, but got sidetracked with my neighbour and sailing buddy Tom Ellis as we rambled past things aquatic and nautical, row upon row, at the show where local connections arose.

One such connection involves the Cannons, whom I have never met, and who live near Lora Bay, just west of Thornbury. But I did meet Mr. and Mrs. Cannon’s sons, Brian and Bruce who were at the boat show promoting a way of walking on water.

Well, almost.

Their product, on the market for just one year, is called the Aqua Lily Pad, and resembles a giant, dense-foam, sleeping mat; the kind that some campers use as an underlay for their sleeping bags. Originally, used in horse barns, Brian and Bruce offer a product that measures six feet wide, 18 feet long and 1 ½-inches thick. Their Aqua Lily Pad is described as a “floating foam pad for on water family recreation and relaxing”.

From the photographs I saw, of an Aqua Lily Pad, it could support three adults as they relaxed in lounge chairs atop the floating foam pad. Other photos showed it in use, afloat and at tether, by a gaggle of children. The pad, which can be imprinted with custom graphics, can also be used as a launch pad for water-skiers; possibly being of excellent benefit to learners.

Brian, who lives in California, is promoting the Aqua Lily Pad, there and Bruce, who lives in Caledon, is marketing it in Canada; along with the Lora Bay Cannons, of course. They might be onto something that could catch on like the Hula Hoop.

Another new item at the boat show was featured by Pinnacle Lifts and Docks run by David Slater of Mississauga. His line of products centers on Hydro Max II Lifts, a boat lift which is powered hydraulically. I’m not an engineer, but Slater’s demonstration model did catch my eye with its aluminum frame and design. You can check these boat lifts on line at www.pinnacleliftsanddocks.com.

The second-last time I saw Ted Knight he was the last postmaster at the Collingwood Post Office. That was years ago. Since then, he went on to live in Parry Sound, Ontario, and became mayor there.

“What are you doing now, Ted?” I asked upon unexpectedly meeting him in an aisle near the Mercury engines booth. Ted’s now the membership sales director for The Ridge at Manitou Golf Club, near Parry Sound. It didn’t take long for my neighbour Tom to discuss with Ted the excellent marina facilities which exist in Parry Sound and where Tom had spent some time last summer. Want to combine a waterfront holiday with some golfing at Parry Sound? Click on www.ridgeatmanitou.com.

The second-last time I saw Paul Elliott was at Henry’s restaurant on Frying Pan Island and one of his employees was bringing one of my friends, Judy Jamieson, a cupcake with a candle on it in honour of Judy’s birthday. This was, of course, following a delicious lunch of fish and chips at Henry’s which is one of two locations operated by Paul’s company. The other location is at Doral Marine Resort, Midland.

I got to say hello to Paul at the boat show where Henry’s was operating a food booth.

The main menu item? Pickerel cheeks.

One can only get to “world famous” Henry’s at San Souci on Frying Pan Island by boat, or by airplane. I highly recommend the scenic flight service offered by Georgian Bay Airways from Parry Sound. A number of us once made the flying trip, punctuated by lunch at Henry’s, and all of us constantly tell others about it as a “must-do” experience. Seeing Paul at the boat show reminded me of the great time we had. You’ll find Georgian Bay Airways on-line and once the ice leaves the lake their flying schedule begins.

Through the years of my Toronto boat show attendance I have watched the number of sailboats being displayed diminish. This year motorboats of all kinds far outnumbered the sailboats and pontoon boats continue to come in a range of offerings.

I’m partial to tugboats, so circled the Ranger Tugs’ R-21EC model three times after it caught my eye. My skipper friend Tom had to tug me away, but I’ll get back to www.rangertugs.com for another look at this stylish and functional craft which comes in at just under the $50,000 mark from Lefroy Harbour Yacht Sales.

Proof that you don’t need Big Bucks to get into boating was most evident at the Legends boat display. This company has been offering an excellent range of aluminum boats, powered by outboard motors, for years and many of their prices are modestly affordable to suit many budgets.

On the sailboat side of things, the Beneteau company had a number of its fine products on display. Take your shoes off and you could go aboard, talk to a salesperson, and learn more about this long-established line of sailboats.

Similarly, one could go aboard a Tes 28’ Magnam where Paul Marshall of Hawkestone was answering questions as Tom and I all but drooled and dreamed bigger than the boats we have. Remarkably, the Tes 28’ Magnam draws only four feet seven inches with its swing centerboard up and its control line comes back to the cockpit for ease of operation.

There’s a lot of history at the Toronto boat show and I don’t mean just with some of the antique boats you’ll see there. Many of the manufacturers and suppliers have excellent track records going back for years with product and services.

No exception is C & L Boatworks of Fort Erie, Ontario, which has David Ventresca at the helm. One of the things David was showing off at the show, in addition to a compelling line of open-cockpit sailboats, was a picture which shows a couple in a CL16 sailboat on a lake in Muskoka some 40 years, or so, ago.

C & L Boatworks still manufactures, sells and services the popular CL16 line and one of those boats is owned by Gary Reid of Collingwood, one of the newest recipients of the Order of Collingwood at Mayor Sandra Cooper’s New Year’s Levee earlier this month.

For entry level, or cottage use, C & L has a range of trailerable products one should consider. As with so many other manufacturers who have been keeping up with the times, you can find C & L Boatworks at www.clboatworks.com.

A perennial favourite at the Toronto boat show is the Parks Canada booth where one can obtain information about such nautical notables as the Trent-Severn Waterway, the Rideau Canal, the Sault Ste. Marie Canal and about experiences at Canada’s national parks. The Parks Canada booth reminds us that our waterways are important to our tourist economy where residents and non-residents alike can enjoy the pleasures of togetherness and boating.

The Bruce Trail, which passes through our Georgian Triangle vacation area is highlighted in some of the Parks Canada literature.

Also at the boat show were advocacy groups, which educate and urge people to respect the waterways and our parklands. Among those the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters had a booth with literature about such things as Ontario crayfish and invasive species, as well as samples of lamprey and zebra mussels. “Keep all our lakes great!” was a slogan which danced in concert with explanations from a well-versed staff member at their display booth.

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) was at the show promoting its Youth Training Regatta which will be held in Muskoka from Sunday, July 17 to Saturday, July 23, 2011. That week is being organized for youth who are blind, or partially sighted, and the action will take place at the CNIB’s Lake Joseph Centre.

The CNIB can use your financial support and their good work reminded me of the good works of a remarkable woman, Wilma Davies of Collingwood, who was also recently named an Order of Collingwood recipient. As explained at the awards presentation ceremony, Mrs. Davies, offers countless hours of her assistance in many activities in Collingwood; truly an inspiration to us all.

For those who do not have boats, but want to have fun afloat, there were many people at the Toronto boat show waiting to help. One of those people was Erica Henry-Jackman.

Ms. Henry-Jackman, is from the Antigua and Barbuda consulate in Toronto, and she was promoting tourism. Interesting, in addition to all the attractions and amenities available in Antigua and Barbuda, is their slogan: “The beach is just the beginning”. That slogan is exactly the same as one which has been used in recent years to promote Wasaga Beach, Ontario in the Georgian Triangle vacation area.

Antigua and Barbuda offered themselves, thanks to the never-ending enthusiasm of Ms. Henry-Jackman, as holiday heaven. They have something for those of us who would fancy staying in an all-inclusive resort. They have something for those of us who might want to enjoy sailing, either on a charter, or a day-sail.

If you’ve thought of renting a canal boat in Europe, Le Boat, might have something for you in one of seven countries. No experience necessary. No licence necessary. Le Boat specialist, Debbie Petermann, was handing out Le Boat vacation guides through which your fingers could do the walking and your mind could imagine you at the helm in France, or Scotland, or Belgium, or Italy, or England, or Ireland, or Holland.  Click on www.leboat.com.

Boating can truly be an international experience, as international as the reach of the Honda company. Not only does this company have a range of marine products in their engine department, they also use their technology across platforms that touch on cars and motorcycles. New, to the Honda product line this year and on display at the Toronto boat show was the 49c.c.-powered scooter, the Ruckus. Eye-catching with its bare-bones look, the Ruckus would serve well as efficient and inexpensive transportation about town, or for on-shore excursions from aboard your boat; given that your boat is big enough to store a Ruckus.

Marina facilities in a number of municipalities were being promoted to mariners, including Port Whitby, Port Credit and Port Abino Station. The latter, interestingly enough, is a Canadian mooring spot which is a facility of the Buffalo Yacht Club on another part of Lake Erie.

Oshawa, Ontario, has a municipal marina plan in progress, as does Collingwood. Someday, I expect, Wally Moran will sail into a much-improved marine facility at Collingwood harbour and, in turn, the Town of Collingwood will be promoting its many attractions – marine and otherwise – at the Toronto International Boat Show.

In the week that I returned from the boat show in Toronto, I attended the first of a number of seminars for sailors being held at the L.E. Shore library in Thornbury. The seminars, which focus on how to get the most out of your sailboat when racing, have been put together by Janice and Mike Skjelmose.

Mike is the guest speaker while Janice runs the slide-show projector and coaches Mike.

In addition to presentations by experienced racer Mike, other guest speakers are being included on the evening program. On January 13, Mike Skjelmose was followed by Kylie Deacon (you might know her from Craigleith Ski Club) and Mike Shaw. This Thornbury couple spent two and a half years refurbishing a 30-foot sailboat and then set out from the Great Lakes for a cruise which lasted three years.

Kylie and Mike sailed to the Caribbean and their adventures, as told to us mostly by Mike, are worth writing a book about. Their photographs added to the excitement for us in the audience. Mike Shaw is a talented carpenter and his work was featured in some of the photographs of “Meggie” their sailboat. You can relive their adventures at www.timetosail.blogspot.com.

Mike and Janice Skjelmose will be back at the L.E. Shore library at 7 p.m., on Thursday, January 27 with a presentation about: “Upwind Sail Trim #2 and Putting It All Together”.

A couple of weeks later, more nautical adventure comes to the L.E. Shore library’s spacious meeting room and art gallery with a program “Nine Years At Sea”. That program will be presented on Tuesday, February 8, by Michael Jarvis, beginning at 7 p.m. Nominal charges are involved, but well worth the investment in learning about the sailing adventures of other people.

Editor’s note: George Czerny is a retired newspaper publisher who often puts fingers to keyboard at his residence in Craigleith, Ontario. He is also the skipper of a Sandpiper 565 sailboat.

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