Midwest sailors know about Strictly Sail Chicago.
For four days this January 24-27, Navy Pier becomes a sailor's escape from the cold, dry-dock life we're forced to live the greater part of a year.
Walk into Strictly Sail Chicago and you're immediately surrounded by every like-minded (or wannabe) lover of wind and water, whether it's the competitive sailor (like my husband) or the cautious and fair-weather sailors like me.
Simply put, everyone from young families to Old Goats gather at Strictly Sail Chicago to look, listen and dream about the coming season. Exhibitors, seminars, demonstrations and salty conversations abound, and ANY sailboat-related questions will find (at least one if not more) answers here.
For anyone inclined to cruise, race, timeshare or even just dream about a sailboat, this is the place for you.
One seminar I'll attend is run by one of my favorite people in the world, my friend John Otterbacher, author of SAILING GRACE. His discussion, titled "What Sailing Taught Me About Living," covers his experience of sailing around the world with his family -- and a compromised heart. From the Strictly Sail Chicago Author's Corner description:
"The nature of adventure is that you don’t know how it all turns out.” It is a territory John knows well. He bought his first boat without the benefit of any sailing experience. Three years later he sailed across the Atlantic to spend a summer and fall in the Med with his family. Come winter he did a solo passage back across, from Casablanca to Barbados. After a winter and spring in the Caribbean, he and his family returned to Michigan. Seven years later—“after a series of cardiac misadventures”—he, Barbara and the kids embarked on a six year family cruise that took them across the ocean four times, another 30,000 miles. In John’s words, “Those years and those ocean miles have served up some powerful lessons on living.” I've seen John's presentation before, and it's always moving and inspiring. I'll also attend a talk by Kathy Parsons and Pam Wall about women cruising, as well as the seminar by single dad Peter White and his sons Kai (15) and Liam (11), covering their liveaboard experience after Peter's died.
The Strictly Sail Chicago experience isn't just for die-hard professionals, life-long sailors or even current boat owners. It's for anyone who appreciates being on or near the water, in the Midwest or elsewhere. It's for anyone like my husband, who falls asleep dreaming about the perfect summer conditions when it's actually 17 degrees outside. It's for kids like mine with various degrees of interest in life afloat: the one who loves sailing as much as his father; the one whose favorite experience is helping to organize a boat re-naming ceremony; and the one who tolerates being on a boat as long as a friend's aboard.
The Chicago Harbors open May 1st. Will you be ready?