Even if you’re not in the market for a boat, attending a boat show will bring you a great bang for your buck as far as entertainment goes, and there are several getting set to open in Lee and Collier Counties.
NAPLES — The boating season officially kicked off last month with the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show, held during the last week of October. Even with the down economy, this was a great event. The South Florida Marine Industries Association went all out, as they are traditionally the first ones out of the gate with their production each year.
Even if you’re not in the market for a boat, attending a boat show will bring you a great bang for your buck as far as entertainment goes, and there are several getting set to open in Lee and Collier Counties. You’ll typically find fishing clinics, how-to seminars, electronics displays, tackle, parts, upgraded components for your existing boat and every type of marine accessory imaginable – and even some that aren't!
The Ft. Myers Boat Show, hosted by the Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association, will be held Nov. 12 -15, at the Harborside Convention Center and Ft. Myers Yacht Basin. Admission is $9, and children under 12 are free. This show features new and broker boats, in and out of the water, as well as inside displays with everything from nautical apparel and jewelry to diesel engines and electronics. There will be fishing gear and accessories galore. As with anything on the market these days, pricing will likely be at lower-than-expected, or “boat show special” rates.
There will also be food vendors, financial institutions, insurance companies and displays by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and other law enforcement agencies. For nine bucks, where else could you go to spend a day and take in so much in one place? Whether you own a boat or not, come on out and see the latest in boats, engines and accessories, and get the latest information on all facets of our waterfront community.
Jan. 15-16 43rd Naples Boat Show 100 Goodlette Road S. 10am - 5pm
43rd Naples Boat Show sponsored by Pincher's Crab Shack, Cruise Naples, SeaTow Naples and Naples Daily News. Featuring new boats, used boats, new cars and trucks, RV's, motorcycles, antique boats, antique cars, Nautical Flea Market and Seafood Festival. Tickets are $10 per Adult, Children 12 and under are FREE. Parking is also FREE. Ticket includes a $10 Gift Certificate to Pincher's Crab Shack, a $10 Gift Certificate to Cruise Naples and a $10 Gift Certificate to SeaTow Naples and is good for the entire weekend.
Feb. 11-15 brings us to the granddaddy of them all – the Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail. Hours are from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Feb 11 and 15, and from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. all other days. The main show is at the Miami Beach Convention Center, and in-water displays include Miamarina at Bayside and Sea Isle Marina & Yachting Center. There will be an unbelievable amount of new and used product in the water for your viewing pleasure, and the marine mart in the second level of the convention center is beyond compare.
From one who has worked that show for many years at a stretch, I can give this advice – get there early, park and find a place to have breakfast. If you try to get to the convention center when the gates open, you will find yourself in an epic traffic jam that is more like a meandering parking lot. Plus, when you do find the real parking lot, it will be full. Your boat show experience will be that much more enjoyable if you plan to get there before the crowd.
When shopping for a boat, take the time to think ahead about what you are going to want to do once you are on the water. If you like to fish, don’t be pressured into purchasing a boat with a lot of frilly cosmetic features – like carpet, leather cabin interior, etc. Make sure that the boat you settle upon will do what it is that you want to do.
And – this is important – make sure that you are aware of the maintenance costs of the boat you choose. Remember the 10 percent rule – the cost of insuring, servicing, and maintaining any boat will run 10 percent of the value of the boat. It’s scary how accurate that is, actually. A typical boat that cost $30,000 dollars will cost you $3,000 per year to maintain – more, if you don’t use the boat regularly – and so on, up or down the financial spectrum. The unhappy boat owners are those that were not aware of the costs of maintaining their asset up front.
The boat shows give you a chance to compare different boats side-by side and take advantage of special pricing on all products available. So, pick a show near you and enjoy the presentation. The trade-folk put an unimaginable amount of work into each one to make it worth your while.
Jim Kalvin is a Florida native, a career mariner, and a former contributing editor to Southern Boating Magazine and Marine Business Journal. He is currently the general manager of Diversified Yacht Services in Ft. Myers.