Seminars | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Help with Your Sailing Plans at the Toronto International Boat Show

Happy New Year, Everyone!

sheryl in dinghy
Sheryl and Distant Shores II in Simpson Bay Lagoon, St. Martin

Following a cosy Christmas onboard Distant Shores II anchored in Simpson Bay Lagoon on the French/Dutch island of St. Martin/St. Maarten, we sailed north to the British Virgin Islands. Here we left the boat in the care of friends while we flew home to Canada to celebrate New Years with family and to get ready for the Toronto International Boat Show which ran January 9-18.

Heading home. Nothing goes to windward like…

Related: Maintaining a Home Base While Cruising

For over 20 years (yikes!) we have been conducting seminars and workshops on the weekends of the annual Toronto show but for the first time we spoke all 10 days of the show. Our topics were "Cruising the Bahamas and Caribbean", "Cruising in France and the French Canals" and "Provisioning for Cruising". Once again we had standing room only attendance at our seminars. Thanks to everyone who came out to join in the fun!




I also worked with sailing author and circumnavigator, Liza Copeland, to give a workshop for women about the "Fears and Fantasies of Cruising". This was highly popular and we are planning to offer it again at next year's show.

Paul, Liza Copeland and Sheryl

Paul and I also served on the expert panel of the World Cruising Club's Ocean Sailing Forum organized by Mia Karlsson and moderated by her husband, Andy Schell. We really enjoy participating in this forum, our third. We also did this with Andy and his wife, Mia, at the Annapolis Boat Show last October and the Strictly Sail Chicago Boat Show in January 2014. You can learn more about World Cruising Club forums and rallies here.

Sheryl, Mia Karlsson, Andy Schell and Paul together for the WCC Ocean Sailing Forum

Another new feature for us at the 2015 Toronto Boat Show was that for the first time we had a booth where fans of the Distant Shores TV series could come by to say hello. Those planning upcoming voyages could stop by to ask questions and get advice. We loved this! We will definitely do this at boat shows in the future. It was such a great way to meet you all in person and learn about your plans and dreams.

Related: Annapolis Boat Show - How Boat Shows Can Help You Achieve Your Cruising Dreams

It was great to hear how watching episodes of Distant Shores got you through cold winters, kept you inspired about your cruising plans and helped skeptical family members understand how fun the cruising life can be!

Comments from the Toronto International Boat Show 2015…
"I can't tell you how many winters your shows have got me through! Whenever I get depressed about the weather I pop in one of your DVDs and head for the tropics!"

"When everyone around me was doubtful about my dreams of cruising I would watch your shows and realize I wasn't alone in my desire to sail off to interesting places. The shows kept me inspired and now my boat and family are ready to go south next year!"

"Never stop what you're doing, guys! We love your shows. They keep us focused on our cruising dreams and one day we'll see you Out There!"

Here are some more photos from the boat show. We hope you will join us next time! ...

Sheryl with Distant Shores fans following one of our seminars

Distant Shores fan, Matt, flew up from St. Louis to get advice on his newly begun cruising plans.

Paul and Sheryl at the Distant Shores booth #1794 at the Toronto International Boat Show 2015

It was great to meet you all in person! We look forward to seeing you next year or out on the water!

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United States Sailboat Show Annapolis

Toasting the boat show with a Pussers Painkiller is a sailors’ tradition
at the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis MD

What is it about boat shows that makes a sailor's heart sing?

Is it the “toy store” appeal? The joy of being surrounded by every wonderful type of gear or gadget ever designed to make time on your boat safer, easier or more comfortable?

Or is it the opportunity to gather so much information all in one delightful day or weekend by talking to vendors, picking up brochures to pour over on cold winter nights or by attending informative seminars?


About 100 people attended the World Cruising Club’s Ocean Sailing Forum we spoke at.

Or perhaps it's just being amongst your own kind? Your Tribe. The people that don't think you're crazy because you're thinking of selling everything, moving onto your boat and sailing off into the sunset for a grand adventure. Who, like you, are happy to talk for hours about boats and boating.

With ICW veteran, Wally Moran, and his faithful dog and sailing companion, Aduana.

Paul and I would have to say it's all of the above and probably lots more. Are you looking for something special this year? What do you love about boat shows? I’ll bet it’s more than beer nuts and rum punches :-) Please tell us in the comments below.

Last week we had the opportunity to attend and participate in the grandaddy of all boat shows, the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, the world's largest and oldest in-water boat show. Until this year it's been all new boats but for the first time ever they added a Brokers Cove so that you could take a peek at great used boats too. If you're interested in almost any type of boat you'll probably be able to see it at this boat show and get the feel of it in the water.

As owners of a variable-draft Southerly 49 sailboat, we’re always curious about other shallow-draft yachts so Paul and I checked out the Antares and Gunboat catamarans, Seaward Yachts with their radical interior design and also took a good look around Jimmy Cornell's (author of World Cruising Routes, founder of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) new Garcia Exploration 45, Aventura, which he attempted to sail through the Northwest Passage last summer as part of his new rally the Blue Planet Odyssey.

The Antares catamaran was one of the shallow-draft boats we checked out.

But while all these boats are impressive and have many interesting features we haven't found a boat we like better than our Southerly 49 yet so we're happy to say we'll be sailing Distant Shores II for another couple of years :-)

If a new boat isn't in your plans or budget this year there were countless vendors in tents with an atmosphere of a festive medieval fair to inform and entertain you. Selling fixtures, rope, fittings, electronics, cleaning products; personalized T-shirts, cups and towels; machinery, jewellery, canvas, magazines, gadgets and inventive doo-dahs of all descriptions. We always find something intriguing and useful.

This year’s find - polarized bi-focal sunglasses for sailors needing reading glasses.

Paul's boat show discovery this year was polarized bi-focal sunglasses for $34.95 at Sunglass Haven. A friend recommended these polarized sunglasses with reading glasses built in. Now Paul can read charts and chartplotters without switching between sunglasses and reading glasses. This will make a huge difference to him on watch!

I was in the market for a new sewing machine for the boat. For the past 25 years I have been using an old hand-crank Singer sewing machine which can sew through 6 layers of canvas, doesn't require battery power but only does a straight stitch. Since we have some new projects in mind and now own a boat with a generator we thought it was time to get a more sophisticated sewing machine that can seriously handle sail repairs as well as complicated canvas projects. We're looking at the
Sailrite Ultrafeed LS-1 PLUS Walking Foot sewing machine. If any of you have this machine we'd love to know what you think of it and invite you to post your comments below or send us an e-mail.

Numerous sailing schools were also to be found at the boat show to get you or your mate started in sailing or to help you take your skills to the next level. Charter agencies were selling bareboat and skippered vacations in exotic locales.

Many of you have been asking if Paul and I will be bringing back our Share the Sail program which we ran a few years ago. We are looking at our filming schedule for this year to see if we can fit in a few weeks here and there this year to offer you a hands-on week of sailing and personal coaching aboard our Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II. If we can manage it around the TV show's filming schedule, we will go over your plans and help you design a cruise of your own that meets your personal criteria and budget plus help any of your crew overcome their fears or concerns while sailing together. We'll keep you posted...

Walking the show we met many fans of the Distant Shores sailing TV series.

Those looking to gain more knowledge or ask questions of experts while at the boat show had a variety of seminars to choose from each day. Paul and I participated on the expert panel with sailing journalist, Charles Doane, and Caribbean 1500 participants, Jennifer and Scott Brigham, for the World Cruising Club's Ocean Sailing Forum where almost 100 people of all ages keen on doing some offshore sailing showed up early Saturday morning.

Young sailors and fans of Distant Shores give Sheryl a present at the Ocean Sailing Forum

Many were considering doing the Caribbean 1500 Rally which goes from Portsmouth VA at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay to Nanny Cay, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands in early November. We filmed the start of this rally in Distant Shores season 6. Andy Schell, moderator of the panel and organizer of the Caribbean 1500 Rally recorded the morning's discussion in a two-part podcast for his 59 Degrees North sailing podcast so if you missed the seminar you can listen to Part 1 here and listen to Part 2 here.

Andy Schell moderator of the World Cruising Club’s Ocean Sailing Forum and expert panel.
An attentive crowd at the World Cruising Club’s Ocean Sailing Forum

Note: The World Cruising Club will be offering the Ocean Sailing Forum for the first time at the Toronto International Boat Show in January 2015 where Paul and I will be be on the panel.

On Sunday October 12 we gave a presentation on “Outfitting and Provisioning for the ICW” as part of SAIL magazine's Secrets of the ICW all-day seminar along with ICW veteran, Wally Moran, who presented “Sailing South: Plan the ICW Trip of a Lifetime”, Mark Doyle co-author with his wife Diana of On the Water ChartGuides who presented “Perfect Places to Plunk It: 50 Frugal Favorites on the ICW” and Jeff Grossman and Jean Levine of Two Can Sail couples sail training who spoke on “Couples Cruise the ICW”.

SAIL magazine editor, Meredith Laitos and her team organized a great day of
presentations for Secrets of the ICW seminar attendees.

Many participants signed up for SAIL magazine's ICW Snowbird Rally which is happening this November. Folks said the rally gave them a firm date to commit to their dream and make it happen. Being in company with other sailors gave them added confidence for taking their first steps heading south.

Sunday October 12 was also our 29th wedding anniversary and, knowing this, some participants of SAIL’s all-day seminar, Scott, Nancy, Vicki, and Matt kindly organized a special cake which they presented to us as a surprise. We were very touched and shared it with all 160 seminar attendees. Thanks guys!

A kind gift for our 29th wedding anniversary

Paul and I were also at the Raymarine booth every day of the show answering questions about electronics and navigation for cruising.
We enjoyed meeting many fans of the Distant Shores sailing adventure TV series at the booth and also as we walked around the boat show. Thanks so much to all of you for coming to say hello and telling us how our programs have helped you fulfill your cruising plans. Many had stopped at Annapolis on their way south on their first cruising voyage. Congratulations to you all and to those planning a voyage in future!


It was great to meet so many Distant Shores fans and friends at the boat show!

Most people we spoke to were taking advantage of the 2-day boat show pass since there is so much to see at the Annapolis Boat Show.

The United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis falls on the Columbus Day long weekend each year which is also the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend (our harvest comes earlier) so sailors drive or fly in from all over the USA and Canada as well as many foreign countries. You really find yourself amidst an enthusiastic like-minded crowd!

If you missed it this year we highly recommend you check it out in October 2015 and hope to see you there.

The next boat show where we’ll be conducting seminars is the Toronto International Boat Show in January 2015. When times are confirmed we’ll be posting them on our Seminar and Events page.

In the meantime, we’re back on board Distant Shores II in the Bahamas where we’ll be filming more informative episodes of the Distant Shores sailing TV series to help you plan your own adventures as we continue to explore these beautiful islands.

Back on board Distant Shores II at Stocking Island, Exuma Cays, Bahamas

Wishing you an enjoyable and restful Sunday.

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard S/V Distant Shores II
P.S. Not familiar with the Distant Shores sailing TV series? Click the image below for a free 30-minute sample episode about the Bahamas.