January-February-March is the time of the year to catch your local boat shows. 

The St. Louis Boat Show was February 8-12.  I look forward to this show every year.  This year the number of boats and vendors was much larger than last.  I hope this is a sign the economy is getting better.  I talked to a dealer from Nameoki Marine out of Granite City, Illinois, and he said that they sold 24 boats this year compared to 7 last year.  The crowd attending on Saturday reminded me of the crowds in the late 1990's.  It was so crowded at times you had to turn sideways to get through. 

I love to look at the new boats; it doesn't matter if they are fishing boats or the larger pleasure boats.  Boats have really improved the last couple of years--more neat gadgets to better fuel economy. I was impressed with the new pontoon boats. The new ones are like small floating cabins.

I was invited to attend Nameoki's open house the next weekend, and again, turnout was good--lots of interest shown in bass boats.  I loved this open house because of the fishing stories people are already telling.  With the weather being unusually mild, people are already catching lots of fish--even crappie. 

My wife and I just returned from the Bass Master's Classic in Shreveport, Louisiana; and, as in St. Louis and Granite City, the attendance was outstanding.  I love the Classic; it really gets my juices flowin, and I'm excited about another boating and fishing season. 

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Christmas 1968

Enough boating stories for this year.  It's December and time to turn our attention to the holidays.  This is the time of year to reflect on all of the things we have to be thankful for. 

I remember one year in particular--1968.  In 1968 I had just gotten married and was a student at the University of Missouri.  My new wife was working to help me through school.  We had one old car and lived in a  small apartment across town from the MU campus.  I walked home from class every night around 5:30.  It was dark and cold as I walked through downtown Columbia. This was before the shopping mall era, and downtown was the main shopping area.

The thing that I  remember and can still hear was the Christmas music pealing from the church bell tower.  I listened as I walked and really felt the spirit of Christmas.  We had very little money for Christmas gifts so I wasn't looking in the windows for presents or wondering about Black Friday.  I was overwhelmed by the sound of the Christmas music.

I look back now and try to pick out my favorite Christmas and figure out why it was the best.  And, I keep going back to the year 1968 and the sound of the Christmas music.  With all the hype that precedes Christmas now, I wonder if we take the time to really enjoy the holiday.  One thing I might suggest--take the time to enjoy your family and listen to the music.

Have a merry Christmas and happy holiday.

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Deep Sea Fishing

With the Bass Master's Classic coming up in February, I got to thinking about times I had traveled to Louisiana.  The Classic is in Shreveport, which is in the northern part of the state.  I have never been to Shreveport and am looking forward to the Classic there.  I have been to New Orleans several times, and like most, have enjoyed the food and good times. 

I remember one time, back in 1990, several of my friends and I decided to go deep sea fishing.  The plan was to go to New Orleans in a motor home and then drop down to Empire, Louisiana where we would charter a boat.  I had been salt water fishing a couple of times, but nothing like this--40 miles out in the Gulf to fish for yellow fin tuna.  I was both excited and a little apprehensive. I'm here to tell you, I love boating and this was a whole new adventure.

I might have known I was heading for trouble the moment I met my friends at the motor home: #1-- the guy responsible for the whole week's beer supply brought Keystone Light.  I'm not a fan of light beer, much less Keystone Light.  We are from Missouri, where's the Budweiser?!  #2-- we ran out of gas somewhere in Mississippi.  The same guy who brought the Keystone was driving. He said he wasn't paying attention to the gas gauge--probably due to the Keystone Light.  Anyway, we finally made it to New Orleans. 

The plan was to stay in New Orleans a couple of days then head to Empire.  This was another bad decision--too much fun in New Orleans.  We left New Orleans with a lot of headaches.

We arrived at the dock in Empire at 4:30 a.m. and boarded our charter fishing boat.  The first thing the captain said was that there were wind warnings for the day--35-45 mph winds with thunder storms later.  That was mistake #3.  I  should have predicted what was to happen, but I had already forgotten about the Keystone Light and running of gas.  Now I was about to experience how rough the sea can be. 

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Made in the USA

The last "part" to be attached to an AKUA boat fender is the "Made in the USA" decal. And, of that, I am most proud.  "Made in the USA" is something I look for when shopping for a product--now more than I used to.  To me it means quality and support of manufacturers in the USA.  At this time, it is difficult to find a product that can make that claim even though the criteria that must be met to be able to say "Made in the USA" is that the "Made in the USA" product components comprise only 60-70% of the total components. I am proud to say that the  AKUA Marine fender is made in the USA with USA made components.

Let me tell you about our manufacturing procedure:

1.)  AKUA fenders are molded of high density polyethelene. The molding is done in New Jersey.

2.)  The closed cell foam with adhesive backing used to pad the fender is from Minnesota.

3.)  Suction cups are made in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. I have tested suction cups manufactured in China.  The suction cups from Pennsylvania hold better on your boat.

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