New port for annual event? Upscale vessels on display at first Marco Island Boat Show

Lance Shearer

They say the two happiest days for a boat owner are the day he or she buys it, and the day he or she sells it.

Over the weekend, thousands got the chance to move closer to that happy day of buying a boat, at the inaugural Marco Island Boat Show, an in-water show hosted by Rose Marina. About 2,500 visitors paid the $5 admission fee, said Tiffany Sawyer-Schank, show manager and executive director of the Marine Industries Association of Collier County (MIACC), which sponsored the event.

Jessica Prather tries the helm on a Presstige 630 brought by Galati Yacht Sales. Rose Marina hosted the Marco Boat Show, a new in-water boat show Friday, Saturday and Sunday, sponsored by the Marine Industry Association of Collier County.

With boats both in the water and sitting on trailers, there was something for everyone to either seriously consider or idly dream about, from jet skis and runabouts up to motor yachts. The largest vessel on display was a Prestige 630, a 63-ft. fly bridge motor yacht with a sticker price of $2,634,505, although according to the Galati Yacht Sales reps who were showing her, if you made a cash offer of $2.1 mill during the boat show, you had the chance of cruising off with a steal of a deal. Somehow, another old boating saw comes to mind, the reminder that “a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money.”

Along with a host of options including underwater hull lights, thermal remote engine camera, hydraulic swim platform, gyroscopic stabilizers, the Prestige features a gi-normous flying bridge, big enough to accommodate a party for your dozen closest friends, with its own sink, grill and fridge.

If that’s not in your budget, you could pick up an outboard-powered boat for a bit less. Formula Boats South of Naples had floating in their slip a Formula 430 SSC, or SuperSport Crossover, which while it retails for over a million, was available that weekend for “something in the nines,” said representative Joseph Lada.

This beast was powered by quadruple 400-hp Mercury Verados, capable of cruising at 40 mph or going flat out at over 60, although it would start to burn a little more gasoline at those speeds. Like so many automobiles, the cabin’s hardtop featured a sunroof, allowing you to choose between open air, light with rain protection, or a fully opaque ceiling overhead.

The rain protection came in handy on Saturday afternoon, when a series of pesky, minute or two or ten rain showers passed over Rose Marina, making it a wonderful time to check out the cabin space on the big boats. Carole Ann Anzalone of Marco Island was taken by the master stateroom, midships in the Australian-built Maritimo 59, available from Galati Yachts for right around $2 million.

She pronounced the mid-vessel master stateroom “very unique,” but that seemed to be a trend, as opposed to the traditional placement right aft or in the bow, where “you have waves slapping the hull all the time,” Anzalone pointed out.

Florida Motor Sports pushed their personal watercraft, including Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Sea-Doo and Polaris. Co-owner Jim Capwill emphasized their dockside service, with regular maintenance or “before you arrive checkups” available.

“There’s nothing worse than coming in for a long weekend, and you find out Saturday morning that the Jetski wont’ go,” he said.

Rose Marina general manager Dan High said they were very satisfied with the show, and hoped to repeat it. The MIACC only came to Marco Island and the marina because the city dock in Naples, the traditional home of their fall boat show, is undergoing extensive renovations, which had nothing to do with Hurricane Irma but were underway well beforehand.

Speaking of Irma, High said their new, fortress-like boat storage building performed flawlessly. The marina’s ship’s store, on the other hand, had seven inches of storm surge, and is closed while it is repaired and improved. They will be open “before Thanksgiving,” said High.

With nearly 50 vendors and 15 to 20 boat companies, products on display ranged from wall art nautical maps to $1,200 folding electric scooters – “definitely the lazy man’s bike,” said Vanessa Sweating of V&D Electric bikes. Food was available aboard the Marco Island Princess, or at the Wild Jimmy’s traveling kitchen in front of what is normally the store entrance.

“We’re definitely interested in doing this again,” said High.