Of course, I can't tell you exactly what I was doing there, but on Sunday, I had a day-long mystery shop in downtown Miami (at Bayside Mall) and at the Miami Beach Convention Center. We were there for me to "work" at the Miami Boat Show.
Like I said, I can't say why I needed to attend, but I can tell you this: the hosts of the show itself, the sponsors (Progressive Insurance, innumerable boat-related companies, and more), and the hundreds of exhibitors spent beaucoup bucks putting on an extremely impressive event. I've been to other major conventions before, but this one was, by far, the most fantastic.
After we bought our tickets, donned our wristbands, and filled out various and sundry papers to enter the first Exhibition Tent, we meandered around looking at all the sailing-related boats and accessories. We found these awesome Spinlock Deckvests, and the kids went crazy for them.
We had already been listening to various "Oh, we're gonna need that!" claims from the children over a WiFi-boosting antenna company, life rafts, all kinds of anchors, engines, ropes, and other necessary components of liveaboard boating, so this wasn't a surprise. However, we chose to stop and talk to the Spinlock folks, variously out of the UK and Rhode Island, about their safety vests' designs for children.
The kids were all about 'em. We asked a ton of questions. I picked up a big ol' fatty brochure. We promised to be in touch. And Sophia, naturally, wanted a pink one (which they have). Moving on...
In the same tent, the kids were captivated by this engine-in-a-tank demo set up by one of the companies on the sailboat side of things. They each got to pull the throttle and make it go, and of course we had to worry about Sophia going full-tilt and making it burst. She's always going full-tilt. Our adventurous little wild child, that one...!
I had to admit, it was definitely an effective demonstration.
This woman, talking to the girls about where to jump on the trampoline aft of one of "her" luxury TradeWinds yachts, was April. April was super-nice, pleasant, professional, and helpful - I even admitted to her exactly what we were doing there. I never do that.
April recognized Sophia for the party animal she is, and she remarked that she'll join us on our $10-15,000 TradeWinds cruises and jump with Sophia on the trampoline - and off, into "the drink" (as my beloved Grandpa always called it).
Chloë preferred to lounge on one of the adjustable pads a bit forward of the trampolines, but April persuaded her to do a smidgen of jumping, too. There was quite a bit of cajoling and hand-holding involved in that scenario.
Jack, ever the chicken (like his Mama!), could neither be persuaded to jump nor to completely relaxed. As you can see from my shadow, I stuck by him. Heh.
Paco joined us on this venture. He's a seven-month-old weenie when it comes to us leaving him at home, which is fine for short escapes. However, he has had severe separation anxiety since we adopted him, and if we leave him alone for a lengthy amount of time, he freaks out and tears up his wee little nosy! :( So we brought him with us.
"Pax" was invited up onto all the kabillion-dollar yachts we toured, in and out of exhibition tents and buildings, onto the shuttle bus to ride between the two major sites, and everywhere else. Of course, Rob pointed out that no one batted an eye primarily because one of us carried us the entire time. He was the hit of the show! Everyone wanted to know him. Indeed, he was the key to our introduction to April and her cohorts at the TradeWinds booth. Several folks nominated him "most spoiled dog of the boat show," and I could not disagree. He has us wrapped around his tiny paw.
Anyway, we couldn't find what we were looking for at the sailboat side of things, and then April looked it up on her handy-dandy laptop for me and realized that we were supposed to be in Miami Beach, not downtown Miami. D'oh! She promptly sat us down and, teamed up with her fiancé-partner, gave us a very hard sell on the cruise of a lifetime. Uh. It was then that I realized exactly why she was being so helpful: huge commissions were in her mind from our booking!
I would love - LOVE! - to take the whole fam-damily on a beautiful TradeWinds cruise to St. Maarten, St. Barts, and wherever else that itinerary goes, but it's just not in the budget right now. I told a little white lie to let April know this wasn't going to happen right now, and she and the beau exchanged a deadly glance. Boom. Friendliness gone, class dismissed.
I still feel awful about wasting her time, but c'mon, she knew why we were there! Gah. Anyway.
Sophia and I sat together on the shuttle bus over to the Convention Center, which turned out to be a good half-hour ride. All of Team Odette fell asleep except for moi, and even I started nodding just before we reached our destination.
(Chloë picked out my sunglasses, by the by. Do they look okay? She said I definitely had to get the silver ones to match my nose ring, haha!) (Also, if you look closely at the side of Sophie's hair, you can see the pink streaks she put in it earlier in the morning. She wants you to see that. You can, yes?)
We toured several boat brands on the powerboat side of things. The Everglades 30' we visited was quite nice. Jack spent most of his time playing captain, "steering" her around aggressively. He plays so many different flight/driving/boating simulators on his Kindle, he is probably already a better driver than I'll ever be! (Shh, please don't tell him that. For a little guy, he sure has a big ego about his 'skillz.')
We also toured a 50' NO SHOES ALLOWED! yacht by Intrepid. Rob estimated its worth at $1.5 million. It was, in a word, gorgeous. When we went below decks to look at the cabins and other living spaces, the kids breathed in unison, "It's beautiful...!" Sophie begged and begged for us to buy it. She pouted when Daddy asked her if she was writing the check. Seriously, kiddo?! Your 'rents aren't Bill and Melinda Gates, darlin'!
Lastly, we visited an unnamed (by me) boat that was nice and all, but the least impressive of the bunch. The kids were nonplussed. Jack continued "driving" and working the controls, and Chloë pulled up a bench to lie down.
Sophia joined her sister on the port side of the boat. I think this one actually did fall asleep. I know we all wanted to!
As for Hubs, he did very well at the boat show, but it definitely tired him out more than he's been used to. There was a lot of walking involved, not to mention all the climbing and maneuvering around the boats and docks. He's not the spry ninja he once was pre-tumor, but he's getting there! And rapidly, I would say; however, he walked a lot more slowly and carefully by the end of the day than he did fresh out of the box. I'm proud of where he was a year ago and where he is now, but I told him not to overdo the efforts to the detriment of his recovery.
Anyhoo... it was a great, big, fun day. We didn't spend a dime on the many food and beverage offerings there, much as I'd have loved to, because we brought our own food. Probably saved us many dollars, so I'm glad we did that... The Boat Show ended today, but there is always next year if you wanna go!