WHEN Lt Colonel Bill Kilgore, the character played by the wonderful Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now, tried to express his feelings for the Vietnam War he said he loved the smell of napalm in the morning – it smelt like victory.
And when Matt Groening, the creator of the Simpsons, parodied those words via Homer he changed the sentiment to: “I love the smell of bacon in the morning – smells like breakfast.”
But in my case, I love the smell of glass fibre, freshly-sawn timber and varnish in the morning – smells like the London International Boat Show!
With Christmas and the New Year festivities quickly fading from the memory, the start of January always lifts my spirits when the Excel Centre in Docklands opens its doors signaling a couple of weeks devoted to my favourite pastime – boats and boating. And this year promises to be the best show yet, since the annual yachtie extravaganza moved from its original home in Earl’s Court.
Along with the usual plethora of chandlers, engines, wetsuits, holiday companies and marinas all offering their services, there are a number of attractions designed to keep every member of the family amused.
Take the Watersports Action Pool for example. This huge 24m by 70m pool, surrounded by seating on both sides, will be staging demonstrations of canoeing, wakeboarding and dinghy sailing. You can watch the experts doing it properly or you can have a go yourself – under the watchful eyes of those self-same experts – and it’s at no extra charge – participation is covered by the show entrance fee.
Still catering for those who want to get actively involved, there’s the brush boarding attraction, returning from last year, which must surely rate as one of the coolest indoor surf simulators in the world. (Beware – you may get hooked!)
Also making a reappearance is the boardwalk ‘dry’ marina, where you’ll be able to wander around boats ‘moored’ in a make-believe marina – so you get to see them as they would look on the water instead of staring up at their undersides.
And a couple of new attractions are also worth mentioning. Firstly, there’s the Family Area where youngsters will be able to play to their hearts content on everything from colouring books through to Wii games consoles while mum and dad grab a relaxing cup of coffee.
And one of the exhibits I’m most looking forward to visiting is John Goode’s Cruising Chute where one of the best teachers of sailing techniques in the world will be giving regular demonstrations designed to show skippers how to cope with the varied conditions they will encounter when on a boat.
And, of course, there are the boats. Millions of pounds worth of boats ranging from four-foot pram dinghies to 70metre luxury gin palaces and sailing yachts. Boats, boats and more boats. For me, it simply doesn’t get any better than this.
Never mind that you won’t be able to afford 99 per cent of the exhibits – just pretend you’ve won the lottery and, for a short while, imagine what it would be like to stand on the bridge of your own boat guiding it out to sea.
Colonel Kilgore you can keep your napalm and, Homer, I hope you enjoy the bacon. For me, just let me savour the smell of the boat show. Smells like…happiness!
The London International Boat Show is on at the Excel Centre in Docklands from Friday, January 7 to Sunday, January 16 with individual adult admission ranging from £13 to £23, concessions £10.50 to £15.50. Children under 15 go free. Remember it’s cheaper to buy you tickets in advance via the website at www.londonboatshow.com.