Family Magazine

Connecting with the Tribe in Annapolis

By Behan Gifford @sailingtotem
Totem coaching clients group picture in Annapolis at the boat show

“Drink this. Now.” The Annapolis Boat Show was in full swing, but my friend Nica wasn’t handing me one of Pusser’s famous Painkillers with her demand. She had a higher agenda!

Mother nature pulled out the stops during the show, putting on an October demo of peak summer weather in the Chesapeake. Nica and I were visiting as many exhibitors as we could (in our shared role as the ad sales team for Good Old Boat magazine), and she knew we had to keep hydrated in the heat and humidity to successfully complete our rounds – so that demand came with a very welcome bottle of cool water. 

The camaraderie of this event is very real, whether you’re fostering the dream to leave someday or reconnecting with friends already cruising.  The payoff of flat-out days: knowing it’s OK when your cheeks hurt from smiling so much. A positive hug-to-minute ratio keeps spirits riding high. Jamie and I are already making plans to be back again for the spring and fall shows next year, while we’re still in North America and in range to commune with the tribe!

Annapolis Boat Show group photos with friends
Does this help explain?

The “TRU Crew,” coaching clients who are part of our Totem Raft-Up, gathered in force! More than a half dozen came on their boats for the show, with eyes on a blue horizon and warmer water this winter. We organize a show dinner in Annapolis, lots of fun but the only fail: forgot to get a group shot while everyone was there – the picture at top represents pretty well though! We feel that we really get to know people through our video chats, but there’s no substitute for that in-person.

Checking in on products we love is a treat: Jamie and I have put hard core miles on our Andersen winches. We’re proud to represent them and it was great to finally meet the team in person. Jamie’s already dreaming about the next upgrade. I’m thinking we film Siobhan teaching how to service one of those beauties – that’s YouTube gold, amiright?!

Behan and Jamie of Totem hanging out at the Andersen winches booth - Annapolis Boat Shwo
Hanging out at the Andersen booth! Jamie stop fondling the winches…

Jamie and I had our most intense show yet; we did presented more than a dozen hours of seminars together, and over DOUBLE that independently! Sessions ranged from a three-hour introduction to boat buying for Jeanneau, to keynote at Cruising World’s daylong event, to Cruisers University master classes. Jamie added on to formal teaching hours with informal sessions on everything from rigging checks to splicing lessons. Overflowing.

three women work on sailing knots at Cruisers University
Teaching basic knots at Cruisers U
Five different badges for one person at one event
Not even all my show badges: wearing many hats!

If the boat show takes over life for a while, it leaves us feeling exhausted but fulfilled. What other short span allows such intensive community with our tribe of bluewater dreamers and doers? This fall’s show only left me wanting for more time to sink in, enjoy, experience, meet new friends, reconnect with old friends. Proximity of Good Old Boat’s rental house to the show allowed time to get to know the team in person, beyond names in email and the masthead, for good times, hard work, and goofing off. Y’all we have a trained sommelier on the team, and she stocks the house – that’s all I’m going to say about that. Except this: Albariño!

Three friends having fun

If the event was a little intense, the nest that cradled Jamie and I during Cruisers U (courses that extend after the show ends) was the boat of good friends. Cindy and I joke we’d make good sister wives, trading off time in the galley and time with kids and time with each other – but the truth is the boat show is special time with this special person. This time around, she finally triumphed on a particular case and our carryhome luggage includes a gorgeous new ukulele. First, though, some late night cockpit concerts (and laundry room… where singing and howling and strumming won’t keep the dock awake!).

Connecting with the tribe in Annapolis
making music with friends on SV Majestic
Connecting with the tribe in Annapolis
Cockpit concert migrates to laundry room after hours!

Back in the Pacific Northwest, Jamie and I are counting down the days until we return to Totem (as this publishes, it’s 14, what me counting?). It’s been a challenging season for our crew: trying to live a double-life as normal, land based humans. Niall’s move ashore for college. The stress of making plans to care for my mother, who progresses her slide into dementia. It’s not easy, any of it. But we’re good: just really, really ready to be back on our floating home, and a more familiar set of challenges. 

Meanwhile, soaking up a rare event in our world, autumn! Changing leaves. Chilly weather. Comfort food. Mairen is still wearing flip flops. I have one pair of socks to see through the month. Friends loaned warmer layers keeping our hearts and bodies warm. Puppy love. Savoring these last weeks of morning walks in the woods for the precious time they bring with a precious friend. 

tall trees and low sunlight
girl and puppy on suburban lawn
please bring us all your puppies.
banana slug on the ground
Nothing says “back home in the PNW!” like pine needles and a juicy banana slug

Wrap on Annapolis: time with the tribe is priceless. Oh, we did get to Painkillers later, by the way. Nica made sure of that, too.

catching drone on deck of catamaran
SOBAD, and so good! Kristi with the flash drone catch: thanks her/Kevin for this cool shot.
good friends meeting at Annapolis Boat Show
So good to see KJ and finally meet Steph! <3 for my WWS co-admins.

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