The Blue Wild Expo – In Review

Speargun Hunter).

The Blue Wild Expo

The Blue Wild Expo Raffle

 The People Rock

It was a great show and I met some really cool people.  A few folks, like me, saw a sailing circumnavigation as something awesome (what’s not awesome about it, right?).  What kind of surprised me was that some didn’t.  I always thought that would be the ultimate adventure for anyone who really loved the ocean…  I thought about this, and I wondered if some of these guys feel challenged by the idea.  If so, that’s pretty short-sighted:  I’d much rather work with everyone than against anyone. Competition is so 2002, this is the Age of Collaboration.

Moving on, I learned some new things, met some new people (though I’m terrible at trade shows, in this regard), and had some interesting conversations.  I didn’t get a chance to talk to some folks I wanted to – Daryl Wong, Sheri Daye, and Brad Thornbrough were all people I wanted to connect with but stayed pretty busy talking with other folks. I hate interrupting or waiting to speak to someone (is patience really a virtue?), so I just kept wandering.  Daryl makes some killer custom spearguns, I really like the hybrids and the Ono’s.  Check ’em out:

The Blue Wild Expo - Daryl Wong Spearguns

The Blue Wild Expo – Daryl Wong Spearguns

People I really enjoyed seeing:  Tim from Palapas Ventana, the guys from Moana Waterman, Rob Allen from Rob Allen Spearguns, Ted Harty from Immersion Freediving, Errol Putinga from FII, Ben Hyson from Omer Diving (you too Kelley), Forrest Gallante, and Ray Powell from DiveR.  The breakout sessions had varying levels of value, but I enjoyed most of them that I went to.  I saw Cameron Kirckonnel being swarmed by people.  I hadn’t quite grasped his celebrity status (well deserved).  When I first met him, somebody was asking him about spots in the Bahamas.  He stopped, opened his backpack, and produced a map of the Bahamas.  That made me laugh, I really wasn’t expecting that.  One of these days, we’ll dive together and I’ll get jealous when he puts bigger fish in the boat.

Since we’re on the subject of celebrity:

Gear, More Gear, and Pneumatics?

By day two I had pretty much seen everything.  But having seen everything I was interested in, I explored some other stuff.  Like pneumatic spearguns.  I have a friend who swears by the small ones for hole hunting.  They do have the advantage of being very compact and very powerful.  This solves some problems when you’re poking around in holes for grouper, snapper, and lobster.  Maintenance is minimal and you don’t have bands to replace.  I think this is something I want to look into a little more. The one I liked the most was the short (58cm) Mares Sten with the 8MM shaft. Seemed solid, simple, powerful, and compact.  I like those qualities for a hole gun.

Mares Sten

Mares Sten

Naturally, I struggled to not buy a Daryl Wong hybrid for my dedicated reef gun… But I have two reef guns at home and there’s only so much room on a sailboat.  They’re just great, good looking guns.   Meeting Rob Allen was especially cool – I told him about what I was planning, and wondered if there was a way we might be able to work together.  He seemed moderately interested, and I’ll take that.  The first question is always “Do you have a boat?” Well, no, but dropping that kind of coin on a boat is no small thing.  Putting it all on the line, and most of it into a boat, isn’t something that should be rushed into.  That boat thing will  be remedied very shortly though, I hope.

A funny thing  happened when I visited the South Africans.  They told me a story about some guy that had shot 3 marlin in a single day.  They asked if I’d ever shot a marlin.  “Yeah, two in one day, then I jumped in on a couple more with a camera.” The truth of the matter is the hard part is never shooting fish, it’s finding them.  And I’m not proud of two in one day, one is definitely enough.

Next Mission:  I Need A Boat

On my end, the big story is that I had to keep jumping in and out of the show to answer phone calls and emails.  I had offers on boats outstanding, which kept me glued to email and kind of edgy.  Some weird combination of excitement and anxiousness. Shit gets serious when you move money into escrow.  And on Sunday that was amplified by no sleep and a hangover from spending Saturday out late drinking – with good people (so I’m excused).

It’s amazing the difference a week makes. When I left for Miami (the International Boat Show) last week, I didn’t know what to think – I hadn’t been on a Lagoon 380 or Fountaine Pajot, and was honestly feeling kind of stuck . Now I’m worried a little about how my job is going to take it if I need to go look at a boat (haven’t been to the office in almost two weeks), but I feel great about making progress.  It’s such a good feeling when things start moving.  Such a good feeling.

Overall – hell of a show, enjoyed it and hope to do it again.  Cool gear, great people, and they served beer (albeit not my favorite).  For a guy from Austin, Texas – it’s kind of cool to see this many people passionate about the sport. 

PS:  if you want to hear the other side of the story – you can check out this post.  I think it’s a pretty lame attitude, but to each their own.

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