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Friday, January 24, 2014

BEST LAID SCHEMES OF MICE AND MAN

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,

In proving foresight may be vain:

The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men

Gang aft agley,

An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,

For promis'd joy!

Do you remember the old Coyote/Roadrunner cartoons. Every kid got a kick out of watching the coyote lay down intricate plans that always went wrong ... when in theory those plans should have nailed that pesky little road runner. It wasn’t as though the road runner was smarter or had a better plan than the coyote - that road runner was just fast and lucky. The poor coyote put a lot of work into his plans but things just never turned out the way they were supposed to. Bad luck and not for lack of planning.

In 1785 Robert Burns explained it very well in his poem which was inspired by him ploughing up a mouse nest just before winter was setting in. The mouse's foresight was in vain with his shelter destroyed when he needed it most. The mouse could never have predicted a human engineered plough would be his ultimate demise. Burns wisely understood the irony of the situation in that men, like mice, can plan, prepare and plot all they want but it the end sometimes happenstance makes the best laid plans go awry. You could look at it another philosophical way. As humans we often see ourselves as the centre of the universe. Confident and all controlling until “shit just happens”. Yup just like in Forest Gump ... you’re running happily along and suddenly without warning you step into the dog doo.

And there’s another way to look at it. Sometimes foresight and planning just won’t cut it. You have to go with your heart and your gut. There are no absolute assurances in life, as anyone who has ever been hit by a bus would tell you if they could.

The other day someone planning to do the America’s Great Loop told me they would likely skip Georgian Bay because they were worried about hitting rocks. I tried to convey rather unsuccessfully that there wasn’t much sense doing the “loop’ without a visit to Georgian Bay, as it would be like visiting The Louvre and bypassing the Mona Lisa. Besides you might just as well hit a rock along the Erie Barge Canal or get run down by a tug in the Mississippi! There is nothing magic about Georgian Bay rocks. They don’t jump out and attack you when you’re in the channel. There are a lot worse risks that one must take in life and there is no sense worrying about things that may never be and are out of your control. You might get struck by a meteor at some point too ... and this most assuredly will happen to man at some point, near or far, as it has happened before ... and life on earth will change as we know it. But we have no control over the situation, and we don’t know when or if it will happen in our lifetime so why worry about it? . Many aspects of life are out of our control. Just like that little mouse you won’t know when it’s coming.Take few chances and live ... there’s only one turn on this merry-go-round.

Posted by at 2:57 PM
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

BACK FROM THE BOAT SHOW

Well, we just got back from our booth at the Toronto international Boat Show and in just a few weeks we’ll be heading to Miami to cover the boat show there. Once the Miami show has been done we head off cruising to BVI in the Caribbean for a spell. This winter has been so cold and snowy we feel very fortunate we are able to make this escape. If we could take all of you with us we would ... but we do promise to bring you back something interesting from the sunny south as a consolation prize.

Back to the Toronto boat show for a bit. I have to say I thought it would be busier than it was. We will report the official stats soon on the What’s New page, but my gut says traffic was down a fair bit. I’m not sure exactly why, because I honestly expected it would be up quite a bit because the recent Fort Lauderdale show was way up, and because consumers are starting to feel more comfortable with the economy.

We talked to many vendors at the show. It seems the companies selling boat gear and parts did very well. The boat brokers held their own, but traffic was lighter than usual. Worthy of note is that most yacht brokers are up in sales this past few quarters. From a new boat sales point of view, it doesn’t look like they did very well – especially the big yacht sellers. Deals were few and far between.

Yes there were line ups to get onboard the bigger yachts. The boat show is a place where folks that have never been aboard a big boat can partake and get a good look around. That doesn’t necessarily convert with qualified leads though. Lots of tire kickers and when they want to honk the horn up on the bridge, you know your in trouble.

Maybe it’s really not that much of a surprise. Canadians are a cautious lot. Boats are disposable income luxury goods. Our US friends seem to be willing to take on more risk and are clearly feeling very good about their economy starting to steam along down there. So why not Canadians? Canadians came out of the recession not too badly from a job and housing point of view ... but if you had your money in TSX index funds you still won’t be feeling the love yet. They say this will be the year for commodities and the TSX ... so lets hope it makes up some more ground and gets back above 15,500 quickly. If you have lots of US stocks you have the best of both worlds with our weaker dollar and the sharp rise of the DOW.

Our dollar continues to fall against the American economy and it’s likely to dip to 85 cents and settle below 90 cents for a while, making the cost of US made products and parts more expensive for Canadians – and that includes boats.

There were far fewer US based yacht brokers at the show. With our low dollar it’s harder to sell US based boats to Canadians. It bodes well for Canadian brokers though, and pretty soon there will be even more of our US friends coming north to shop for quality fresh water boats at a great $ discount.

If I was a boat dealer or marina I’d just keep my head down and keep at it, because there is light at the end of the tunnel and the sun will shine for them once again before too long. In any event I would say the Toronto International Boat Show people run a pretty good show and it’s not for lack of advertising or anything like that. The show was very well promoted. On the other hand if I was TIBS management I wouldn’t be raising the booth rates next year and I would probably reduce the entrance fee somewhat. But that’s just my two cents worth. Bring on the heat of spring and let’s see if that plants the seed and sprouts some green shoots to bring some new boat owners off the fence.

Posted by at 1:09 PM
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Thursday, January 02, 2014

LET’S TALK CRUISING GEORGIAN BAY

We have some neat things going on at the Toronto International Boat Show at our booth (G315 Industry Building across from Boatsmart) beginning January 10th to the 19th. You don’t want us to get bored at the show RIGHT? So come by and say hello and let’s talk boating on Georgian Bay. You can also pick up a bottle of our famous Lime Habanero Hot Sauce and enter our contest to win a Learn To Sail Charter on a 44’ Hunter sailboat on Georgian Bay in the 30,000 Islands. See you there!

Posted by at 4:01 PM
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