Commodore at Düsseldorf

The Dusseldorf Boat Show 2019

A bleak day looking down the Rhine

My memories of the last few London Boat Shows (LBS) were that you had to fight your way past dozens of stands selling expensive cars, garden furniture, BBQ’s and those wonderful widgets for preparing food which look great when demonstrated but take the tops of your fingers off when you try them at home, before you found any of the few sailing boats on display.

Presumably they were there to fill the space and at the end the organisers had barely enough takers, nautical or otherwise, to fill even one of the halls.

With the, perhaps not unexpected, demise of the London Boat Show and still 4 months until I can return to ‘Hoppetosse’ for some proper sailing I was in need of both a boat ‘fix’ and an ‘adventure!’

So why not try the Dusseldorf Boat Show?

With 17 halls to visit I planned on two full days at the show. It had snowed as I arrived on the Tuesday afternoon and the snow never melted. I don’t think the outside temperature went above freezing for the whole trip.

The Halls were ‘themed’, the first hall I entered was ‘diving’, and I had an interesting conversation with an exhibitor from the Azores which reminded me that when I was out there during my west to east Atlantic crossing (had to remind everyone that I had done that!). We had filled tanks and were ready to do a dive, but never got around to it, being absolutely shattered climbing Mount ‘Pico’ (7500 feet). If you haven’t tried the Azores, add them to your bucket list. Great for sea life, birdwatching and walking and the living costs seemed very reasonable. (2004!)

The first sailing boat I saw was an interesting gaff rigged dinghy, badged as ‘self-righting’ and with a built in Electric motor. Under £10000 complete. Certainly, electric propulsion was very evident throughout the show.

Whereas, in its later years, the LBS struggled to offer any water features, Dusseldorf boasted a sailing ’lake’ with Oppies and other small dinghies, a fishing ‘pond’ where you could practice your casting, a Dive pool and a canoeing lake which meandered round an island or two. All indoors.

Most halls also had one or two stages set up where lectures ran throughout the day, sometimes in German but many also in English. I enjoyed the splicing lecture which even though the Speaker was German, the associated video was subtitled in English. This lecture was followed by a workshop where you could learn for yourself.

I didn’t go aboard any of the yachts although there were plenty there. I confess I did have a look at the two motorhomes that were being displayed, but only as we are thinking of swapping our caravan at some point.

Chandlery and equipment manufactures were well represented although there didn’t seem to be much selling pressure at the show.

And yes, there were a few stands dotted about selling BBQ’s furniture and gadgets but spread out over the 17 halls they were barely noticeable, and easily avoidable.

The UK was well represented by Rustler Yachts, Princess, Sunseeker among others, and for the dinghy sailors both Ovington Boats and Hartley Boats had impressive stands.

Harley Boats said they were having a good show and had sold most of the display boats.

I was very interested in the ‘Liteboat’ Lite XP which has a hull reminiscent of a sailing surfboard but with a small cabin and also a sliding seat for rowing.

‘Wilks’ from Tollesbury also had a stand at the show, as did Houdini Marine windows from Southminster.
With very easy public transport from Dusseldorf airport to the show, it would be possible to do it as a ‘Day Trip’. The show opens at 10:00 and closes at 18:00 so you could leave Tollesbury at around 06:00 and easily be home by 22:00. But then you would miss out on the chance to explore Dusseldorf and wander along the Rhine.

I did three nights. With my late booking, the hotels were not cheap, I paid around £100 a night but could have got a two-bedroom apartment for under £60 and a bed in a Hostel under £20.

Tickets for the show worked out at £8.50 per day for me (as an OAP!) and this included free public transport from your accommodation/airport to the show and back.

I used Avios plus £25.00 cash for a BA business class flight each way and flew out from Heathrow and back into London City. Only just over an hour’s flight each way.

In all, an interesting few days that will probably be repeated next year.

Andy Hobden