This past weekend I attended the Catboat Association Annual Meeting in Mystic, CT. I have attended it for the past three years and have always had a wonderful time, but this time was special on a new level. Part of the CBA meeting is the Catboat Association Resource Show. A handful of boat builders such as Beetle Cat, Marshall Marine, Arey’s Pond Boat Yard, and Fatty Knees show off their boats and a number of other smaller vendors display their boat related offerings. I took the opportunity to spread the word about Heritage Boatworks and had a table of my own. My daughter Maggie came along for the ride, (aggressively) peddling her nautical, square-knot bracelets and the wife and other 2 kids came along for the swimming pool.
I arrived Friday night after work so it was too late to get anything done. Maggie, Harry, and I headed down to the show early Saturday morning to begin our setup. They had never been to a show like this, so they were very excited and anxious to see how it would all pan out. Maggie setup her bracelets on a small wooden stand I had built and I laid out a large poster, my HBW business cards, and some of the parts we’ve built for Maggie’s Catboat as conversation starters. The show officially started at 9am so at 830am, Maggie disappeared without a word. She walked around to every vendor in the hall and told them all about the HBW table and the bracelets she was offering. I did not ask her to do this. Come to think of it, I was not smart enough to ask her to do this. Maggie was an instant hit and that talk of the show as folks dropped by the table the rest of the day and instantly said, “Hi Maggie. Are these the bracelets you were telling us about?”
So as Maggie worked her magic, I had the pleasure and honor of rubbing elbows with Catboat Association rock stars and members alike. I had a number of fantastic conversations with a number of fantastic people. One gentleman even gave me exclusive access to a number of historical photographs that I will be deciding on how to incorporate into the site. All in all, people were very curious about my project and anxious to sign up for the newsletter. I got a couple dozen folks to sign up, but more importantly met some great people.
The one concerning observation I have made over the three years I have been going is the average age of the attendees. It seems as though the group has gotten 3 years older with little influence to reduce that average. I am 40 years old and I would guess that I have the average age beat by 10-15 years. I would love to volunteer my time to help kick start some younger memberships at the CBA, but unfortunately with 3 small kids at home, it is just not feasible right now. I am hoping that my frequent mention of the CBA (as well as other organizations) on HBW will help spur memberships from the younger walks of life. The catboat is an old, traditional New England work boat turned pleasure craft that has been preserved and celebrated by the CBA. I hope that preservation and celebration continues into the next generations.
All in all, what a fantastic weekend. I met some great folks, had some wonderful conversations, and learned a ton about a variety of topics. I also was introduced to my daughter as an aggressive and successful sales executive (hopefully in the boating industry). The catboat sailor is indeed a particular breed of sailor. They are deeply interested and rooted in tradition, take immense pride in not only their own boat, but the catboat in general, and they are always willing to gam a bit over anything remotely related to sailing boats. They are friendly, kind, and warm folks to spend a weekend with and I am looking forward to doing it again next year.
What is a catboat? For more information on the catboat, visit http://catboats.org for the Catboat Association webpage.