Mem­ory Lane

Power & Motor Yacht - - LOGBOOK -

It’s hard for me to be­lieve that it’s Miami boat show time again (Fe­bru­ary 11-15). I re­al­ized this show is go­ing to be my 21st an­nual pil­grim­age to Miami where I get to deep-dive into all things boat­ing. For me, it’s a won­der­ful time to learn about new boats, prod­ucts, and equip­ment while catching up with old friends.

Over the years a lot has changed with this boat show, from evolv­ing lo­ca­tions to the Miami sky­line, and, of course, the boats them­selves. While re­cently preparing for an of­fice move, I came across boxes of my old re­porter note­books and day plan­ners. I’m not sure why I hold onto this stuff. Per­haps it’s be­cause I main­tain the il­lu­sion that some­day they will be a nec­es­sary com­po­nent to cre­at­ing my cap­ti­vat­ing mem­oir. Do I har­bor a se­cret be­lief that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will dis­cover them buried in the at­tic and ex­claim, “Ahh, it’s the Ge­orge Sass lost note­books! We can’t be­lieve it! Why are we blessed with such good for­tune?”

I’ll be the first to ad­mit that’s there’s cer­tainly noth­ing too in­ter­est­ing amongst this col­lec­tion of faded pages with pen­man­ship that looks like the lost Dead Sea scrolls. Nonethe­less, I poured my­self a glass of wine and sat back on a cold, gray Sun­day to flip through the pages. A few mem­o­ries from as­sign­ments along with those 20 Miami boat shows be­gan to per­co­late to the sur­face. I thought I’d share a few with you here in no par­tic­u­lar or­der.

First of all, af­ter dis­sect­ing my day plan­ner, it be­came abun­dantly clear that I had a dif­fer­ent level of stamina work­ing the show in my mid-20s than I do now in my mid-40s. There were a lot of late-night “meet­ings.” Back then, I couldn’t wait to get on down to Ocean Drive, squeeze in around the pool at the Cleve­lander.

To­day, I main­tain that noth­ing good hap­pens af­ter mid­night. I now find an in­cred­i­ble amount of joy in head­ing back to my room with some take­out sushi and a good book. I’m known for my “Ir­ish Good­bye” move—an in­nate abil­ity to dis­ap­pear in a crowd with­out a peep.

Last year I took this prac­tice to the graduate level. I drove my in-laws’ Sabre 36 down from Ft. Laud­erdale and found a slip at the Sun­set Har­bor Yacht Club in Miami Beach off 20th Street. Oh sweet joy! I had var­i­ous din­ner meet­ings and even a speak­ing obli­ga­tion, but tak­ing my rented Vespa back to the boat at the end of the night and its lit­tle pocket of calm­ness al­most made me feel guilty.

Ev­ery morn­ing was like a va­ca­tion—away from the pop­u­lar show ho­tels and able to sit and have an un­in­ter­rupted cup of cof­fee with the pa­per.

Dur­ing th­ese past 20 boat shows it’s been won­der­ful to wit­ness the for­ma­tion of dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies and their evo­lu­tion. For in­stance, my notes from the Miami de­but of the first Mar­low Ex­plorer read, “David nailed it.” The David I re­fer to, of course, is David Mar­low and he’s gone on to build an in­cred­i­bly suc­cess­ful com­pany. David and I rem­i­nisced about that mo­ment a few years back and, af­ter be­ing over­served, I’m not sure who put whom into the cab at the end of the night. There are few peo­ple that I enjoy speak­ing with more about boats than David and Miami has pro­vided a back­drop for many of th­ese ses­sions.

I also dis­cov­ered my notes about a new Silverton 43 and my lunch with the com­pany’s mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor, the late Chip Shea. Chip is up there as one of the most hon­est, right­eous, and gra­cious in­di­vid­u­als I’ve ever had the plea­sure of work­ing with. Dur­ing the 2000 Miami show, I took a tour of the 43 at the Miami Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. A week later as we wrapped up our sea test, I was strug­gling to back her into a slip at the Miami Beach Ma­rina. I looked at Chip with a look of mild be­wil­der­ment. “What do you ex­pect, Ge­orge? She’s a lit­tle slab-sided and her props are the size of pan­cakes.” Cer­tainly no spin there!

Speak­ing of dock­ing, Sabre’s Bent­ley Collins and I have en­joyed more than a few boat tests dur­ing shows. Bent­ley op­er­ates boats with the calm­ness of a Bud­dhist monk. One year, I was about to make a rookie mis­take and push off a pil­ing from our port side. “Hey, Ge­orge, that’s what rubrails are for.” Bent­ley said calmly and then piv­oted per­fectly us­ing the wind and cur­rent to his ad­van­tage. Les­son learned.

Over the years, I’ve dis­cov­ered and ob­served a lot in Miami. I’ve seen a fist­fight over a cus­tomer, a wife buy­ing her hus­band a boat for Valen­tine’s Day, one mag­a­zine pub­lisher push­ing an­other into a pool, and even a boat tester fall­ing off the sid­edecks, im­mor­tal­ized by what’s now be­come a re­view cliché; “boat could use more grabrails.” But above all, I’ve seen in­cred­i­ble boats and prod­ucts, and a lot of peo­ple re­al­iz­ing their boat­ing dreams. That’s what it’s all about. I’ll see you on the docks in Miami … as long as it’s not too late.

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