The Sheen of sails soaring to the vaulted roof of the International Amphitheater, hard by the frozen shores of Lake Michigan, last week lifted the hearts of the 281,000 Chicagoans who found in the world's largest indoor display of boats (827 models) an augury of spring more potent than the most courageous crocus. Along one wall an indoor river flowed, apurr with a parade of powerboats, each equipped with models wearing the latest marine-inspired apparel. As boatdom's new wares spread their promises of glorious days afloat at shows from coast to coast, more people came, saw, touched and bought than ever had before. In January, New York's Motor Boat Show drew a record 389,000 visitors (SI, Feb. 3). And next week, San Francisco's Cow Palace weighs anchor with the biggest boat show in the West. There one "new" class of boat to be offered is a 1958 line of Chinese junks, brought by steamship from Hong Kong by a Belvedere entrepreneur. The 30-foot model is $4,750, sleeps four and has two golden cotton sails. As a concession to the American trade, it has a built-in cocktail bar.
Everywhere there is evidence that women have come aboard. Where once boats used to be a simple, shipshape white or natural wood, they now glow with pastel two-tone paint jobs. And where once a galley often was no more than a hot plate with can opener attached, there are now stainless steel and mahogany cooking centers of gleaming efficiency (see page 39).
Further evidence that boating is a family affair will be found in the great variety of sportswear available this spring designed for life afloat. Examples of it, shown here and on following pages, were photographed at Bahia Mar, Fort Lauderdale's 300-boat yachting center. Like the boats that have wintered in the South and the showpieces in the North, they'll move out of doors all across America come spring.
On control tower at Bahia Mar, Fran Deal and Charles Herrmann wear clothes of Wellington Sears's shipshape sailcloth. Her dress, of red, white and blue stripe with button-on blue apron, is called Fisherman's Wife ($25, Kenn Barr for Casino). His blazer and slacks are of same fabric (see page 38).
At the Chicago boat show a Nipper with striped sail, a Snipe and two Rebels vie with hundreds of other craft on display for prospective owners among show's many visitors.
String-Knit Pullover ($22.50, Gino Paoli), made in Italy, is striped with blue and white, has comfortable easy line, pockets at waistline. Peter Glenn, skipper of yacht Tregaron, wears it with cuffless blue duck pants.
Flag-Printed Pullover ($6) features international yachting signal codes. Jerry Keeler of Fort Lauderdale wears it over white cotton boating pants cut to a seaworthy calf length ($7, both McGregor) and blue canvas deck shoes ($8, Dunlop).
Rope-Tied Pullover ($25, Gino Paoli) is another version of the newly arrived Italian-made string-knit shirts, comfortably porous yet practically sturdy for boating. Jim Kirk wears one striped in navy and white at Bahia Mar's Pier A.
Pea Jacket and bell-bottomed trousers ($28, by John Weitz for Printzess Square) are worn by Tish Carter while visiting the yacht Southern Trails.
On shore leave, Charles Herrmann wears striped jibcloth blazer ($23), white jibcloth slacks ($11, both Gordon) and navy silk-and-lisle knitted shirt ($8, Activair); Fran Deal a red Viyella "Salty" shirt ($15), white pleated Viyella skirt ($30, both Hathaway), Bernardo thong sandals.
Track Suits ($8, White Stag) are of cotton knit, with fleece backing, and make ideal pullovers for breezy boating, Jerry Keeler and Karen Ekman, both of Fort Lauderdale, wear them for a trip down the Inland Waterway.