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Things to Buy That Will Enhance Your Lifestyle: Boat Show Edition

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Our man about town Jared Hatch visited the Chicago Boat and RV show last week and found things you can buy—boats, mostly—alongside snakes, cookbooks, and other accessories, like jet skis.

The Chicago Boat and RV Show opened last Wednesday afternoon and we didn't leave until McCormick Place kicked us out and closed at 9 p.m.. We went back on Thursday and spent the entire day playing in the water until our toes looked like raisins.

Besides being a great social event for aquatic enthusiasts, the boat show is the place this week to stock up on nautical toys before we hit the tropics later on this month to show off our Resort Wear 2011. Or, before Oak street beach opens on Memorial Day.

This Year's show had everything from tugboats and bayliners to a live wake boarding arena and a 155 pound python named Maggie. In short, it was a playground where you can buy things.

This is what makes the 2011 Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show unique among the dwindling number of trade shows coming through McCormick. It's the ability to shop the oppourtunities and take advantage of competitive prices, and exclusive show specials, all the while drooling over the latest models and taking first looks at new accessories. At other shows similar in nature (auto show, housewares) it is uncommon to have the option to purchase. At the Boat Show, not only do you have the option to purchase a boat after negotiating from dealer to dealer, you can then buy insurance from agencies like American Marine Underwriters, outfit your stern with LED lights and custom flags, swing over to Gordy's and snag a solid brass prop, then sign for a pre-construction mooring space at 31st street Harbor. The spending doesn't stop there- after signing your life away to the insurance agencies and the Chicago Park Distict you can head on over to Radar and Ronix to buy a top of the line wakeboard, remote control toy helicopter, and still have time to get a Miller Lite (in a cozy) and test out the rock climbing wall while the wife and kids shoot Nerf crossbows at blow up turkeys.

Yes folks, it's a field day at the Boat Show so you understand why we weren't able to leave. Each day there were speakers and performers. For instance, we caught the Professional Wakeboarders Rail Jam Productions in the 160 foot water tank set up on the east side of the pavilion.

This man has snakes on a boat

We also caught Nebraskan David Nieves and his anacondas, aligators, cape monitors and array of pythons. We fell in love with Maggie, the 21 year old Asian python and the endangered corucia zebrata from the Solomon Islands. Unfortunately, David wasn't selling his endangered species, but he was selling his two macro-photographic books for a special show price of $10. We also saw the long jumping Golden Retrievers and played catch with a smoked femur bone we bought from one of the vendors.

Things to put on your boat

Other notable highlights of this years show included Chicago Midway Aviators selling flight lessons at sunset that teach novices how to taxi and takeoff, fly straight and level, climb and ascend, and turn, approach and land for an unbeatable $195. Instructor, Tom Pieczonka, was also giving away free lessons to a few lucky show goers.

Formula Boats unveiled their new hybrid 290 FX4 which combines the space and luxury of a family style yacht with the speed and agility of a racer. The 29' silver beauty has optional features to the tune of a Merc Twin 377 Mag Ec B3, 6000 BTU reverse cycle A/C, cockpit refridgerator, HDTV/DVD, and remote battery charging posts. The list on this model is $239, 475 but is selling at this show for a super discounted special of $155,900. Surely, this one, because of the price and its versatility is one of our faves. We took several photos of ourselves in the driver's seat.

Another highlight we caught wind of last week by way of the Boat Show's national headquarters on LaSalle Street. We were told to keep our eyes peeled for Spring Brook Marina this year as they were bringing in two boats, one of which is nicknamed "The Queen of the Show". This Queen, as we later find out is the Princess 42, (the actual name of the boat) built in Plymouth, England and freighted over to Seneca, Il where Spring Brook is based. We got a chance to take our shoes off and walk around in 42 footer's roomy cabin with wraparound windows, lounge on the U-shaped sofa and seating area that extends out to a sunbed. The Princess 42 is great for long costal voyages with a master suite, and guest bedrooms, both including full bathrooms. the most impressive feature in this vessel were the vacu-flush toilets with options for bidets. The Princess 42 is also has a good galley for preparing your freshly caught lobsters with an cooktop, microwave oven, barbecue, wet bar, fridge freezer, and lusterous teak wood tables perfect for alfresco dining off her tail end. Her other impressive features include dual deck navagation and twin helm seats for a romantic his and her sunset joyride. (A $1,000,000 joyride.) But Queen of the Show? No, we don't think the Princess 42 was the queen of the show- there was only one busty marine goddess that really stole our heart and could hold the title of "Queen of the Show"- Coastie. Nestled between two trailers of the Coast Guard and Navy we found a cute bubbly remote controlled boat about 3 feet long and 3 feet tall. She's flirtacious in tone, winks often, will dance with you, and sound her siren if she likes you. Of course, her siren did sound for us. Coastie is most obviously Queen of The 2011 Boat Show.
· Chicago Boat Show [Official Site]