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A great family day out at Southampton Boat Show

by Sarah Heron on 19 Sep 15-24 September 2017

The UK's festival of boating at is a must-do for any boating fan, from dinghies to powerboats and everything in between. There's plenty to do for younger sailing fans too as we discovered this weekend.

This year the organisers have laid on even more activities for youngsters, and both my children (7 and 5) were hotly anticipating seeing Gem from Cbeebies' Swashbuckle who was putting on live shows throughout the day. We grabbed a quick pizza from the food court and watched Gem put on a brilliant piratical performance with plenty of songs and audience participation. The highlight for Daisy was taking part in a jewel-finding game and then having her picture taken with Gem!

Next stop were the kayaks and paddleboards on the Paddle River Experience in Solent Park. Both children were togged up with buoyancy aids and helmets and pottered about very happily in their double canoe. After a quick stop-off in the nautically themed playground we wandered through the marina to the Tall Ship Kaskelot, where Gem had started the day with some pirate songs and dancing. It's not surprising Kaskelot has featured in so many films – she looks like a proper pirate ship (I had to dissuade my children from swarming up the rigging, Treasure Island-style) and they loved seeing the huge anchor chains and exploring the hold.

Southampton Boat Show is a vast event but because so much of it is open air, it's fun to explore. Daisy is a keen dinghy sailor and loved seeing all the different dinghies on display, and is now itching to try out the new RS Zest, with its snazzy yellow jib. My 5 year-old loved the bumper boats (complete with squirters) and the Adventure Canoe River in the Arena. Our only regret was not booking early enough for some dinghy sailing with Rockley's hugely popular Get Afloat Programme - it was booked up within minutes of the show's opening, a top tip for next year as we fully intend to return.

The Southampton Boat Show runs until 24th September. Family day tickets from £30 when booked in advance, for 2 adults and up to 4 children.

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