The Granddaddy Of Them All
Fortunately, in the world of yachting there are many different activities to keep one busy and interested. It seems that if we do not currently own a boat, then we are looking for a boat. If we own a boat, then we are looking for our next boat, usually larger but not always. By that logic we are all looking for a different boat, perhaps new or perhaps used. What better way to look at a thousand boats, both new and brokerage, small and large, than at a boat show? Several times a year I am afforded the opportunity to visit a boat show, both large and small, and wander around looking at all sorts of boats, even though I am not really looking for a new boat, but you never know, perhaps a new to me boat?
Ft. Lauderdale is the self-proclaimed “yachting capital of the world” and hosted the 59th Annual Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show this past November. Every year the show seems to get larger and have more expensive and larger yachts on display. A wide variety of new and brokerage yachts were shown including runabouts, sport fishers, high performance boats, center consoles, center consoles with big ass engines, cabin cruisers, flat boats, skiffs, express cruisers, sailing yachts, motor yachts, bow riders, catamarans, ski boats, jet boats, trawlers, inflatables, canoes, and super yachts, are all there, somewhere in the more than three million square feet of exposition space both on land an on water.
Boats in the water were spread across six marinas and boats on land filled up the Ft. Lauderdale convention center. There were reportedly more than 1,500 new and brokerage yachts and over 1,200 exhibitors viewed by more than 100,000 visitors over the five day span the show was open. With more than $1.6 billion dollars worth of boats, engines and accessories, if you cannot find anything of interest here, then you need to seriously consider another hobby.
The weather in south Florida this time of year can be variable with anything from thunderstorms with heavy rain to sunny skies, hot and humid. Fortunately, this year the forecasted weather for the week called for mild temperatures with low humidity. To the Floridians, mild temperatures and low humidity translates to highs in the mid 80′s and humidity around 60%. For us West Coasters, shorts and a short sleeve polo was the uniform of the week. The show organizers have done a great job in providing food and refreshments stops all around the show venues allowing you to get out of the sun and have a cold beverage. The larger show exhibitors had ice cold bottled water and sparkling wine to entice you to stay and look at their products just a little longer. Walking around acres of fiberglass shoehorned into impossibly small spaces is hard work and requires an abundance of refreshment stops along the way.
I have to believe that anyone in the boat building business had an exhibit of their boats either in the water or on land. There are so many brands that we do not see on the West Coast that appear to be popular on the East Coast. I calculated that if you wanted to see all three million square feet of boats in five days then you would need to cover 75,000 square feet every hour! Obviously we need to draw a line somewhere as 75,000 square feet every hour was just not possible. Although a bit arbitrary, we drew the line at any boat longer than 110 feet. It made sense because to tour most any of those yachts, you needed to have an appointment and it seemed that there were no appointments available when we arrived.
Even at a show this large and spread out you are likely to run into other West Coasters who made the day-long trek to Florida. This year the team from Silver Seas Yachts in Sausalito, Rob Newman, Sean Schlesinger and Trish D′Anna were manning in-water exhibits from several of their premier new boat lines. Princess Yachts had eleven boats on display and four of them making their North American debut, the R35 Performance Yacht, the F55, the V65, the elegant F70 and the S78 Sportbridge. The R35 is the first in a new series of high performance yachts being introduced by Princess. Designed in partnership with Ben Ainslie Racing and Pininfarina she is a carbon fiber hulled rocket that makes better than 50 knots. Power comes from twin all aluminum Volvo V8 gasoline engines rated at 430hp each, maneuverability and speed come from the active foiling system based on technology developed from the Americas Cup foiling catamarans. I am told that Silver Seas has one of these making its way to the West Coast in 2019. I cannot wait.
Two new Flybridge yacht offerings, the F55 and F70, were on display with long lines of potential new owners waiting to have a look inside. Then of course the flagship Princess, the S78 also drew a crowd. Luxury and sport are the hallmark of the Princess S-Class and with a claimed top speed of 39 knots, she definitely has the sport part covered.
Richard Boland of Richard Boland Yachts also spent the week at the show splitting his time between the Riviera and Belize Yachts and his new line of houseboats, Overblue. It was nice to have a personal tour of the new boats and to be escorted past the forming line. Riviera had nine boats on display and Ft. Lauderdale was the world premier of the flagship Belize 66 Motoryacht and the North American debut of the long range Riviera 72 Sport Yacht and at the opposite end of the size scale, the 39 Sport Yacht. Other models on display were the 6000, 5400 and 4800 Sport Yachts, a blue-water Riviera 52 Enclosed Flybridge model and the classic Belize 54 Daybridge model.
The Italian designed and manufactured Overblue is a houseboat built on top of a catamaran hull and offers tons of space inside and up top. The amount of space for a 54-foot boat with an 18-foot beam is amazing. Combine the vast living space with the Italian design and the economy of the Volvo engines and I think Overblue has a winner. Other sizes from Overblue are the 44-, 48- and 58-foot vessels. Richard tells me that he has one of the 48-foot boats on the way to San Francisco.
Accompanying a client seriously looking for a new yacht, we needed to have a good plan in place for navigating the vast expanses of the show in order to see the things that are of interest. We had several yachts to visit, most with a scheduled appointment, but between the schedules we had time to just wander and ponder.
Having been successful in finding the client′s next yacht the first day and having an accepted offer to purchase, we had to make plans for our return trip the following week for the sea trial, surveys, and haul out. Oh darn, another coast to coast trip!
Owned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show is truly the Granddaddy of all boat shows. Make plans for 2019 now. Show dates are October 30 to November 3, 2019. For more information check out the show web site at www.flibs.com.
Cannot wait for next fall to look at boats? Check out the Seattle Boat Show to be held on January 25 to February 2, 2019. The Seattle show is spread out over three locations in Seattle, the CenturyLink field event center south of downtown, and two in water locations on Lake Union just north of downtown. While not as large at the Ft. Lauderdale show, the Seattle boat show is the largest show on the West Coast. Over 1,000 boats of all sizes are expected to be display, both indoors at the convention center and afloat on Lake Union. Do not expect to find any 300-foot super yachts, but rather a good selection of just about everything else.
Want to devote some time to seminars? The Seattle boat show has over 200 seminars scheduled over the nine days of the show. From seminars on the care and feeding of your engine to crab fishing in Washington, there is something for everyone. Thinking about cruising the Pacific Northwest, San Juan Islands or venturing further north into Canadian waters, do not miss the seminar at the boat show university entitled Keeping it Local – Cruising Puget Sound, and the San Juan and Gulf Islands.
If you going to make the cross-country trip from San Francisco to Ft. Lauderdale it is much more enjoyable to travel with a yachtsman that is seriously looking for a new yacht and has a good idea of what he is looking for. Having had several pre scheduled appointments, some even before the show formally started, helped get our calendars in order prior to heading out. Knowing what you are looking for also helps keeps the focus since the show is so immense and with every boat size, design, and price point on display it can easily take five days of wandering around and not even see half of the show. The Ft. Lauderdale boat show is both exciting and overwhelming. And it can also be expensive. While the show tickets are reasonable, everything else is not. Hotel rates go up by a factor of 3X and many of them are already booked for the 2019 show dates. When wandering around try to look past the flash and sizzle and think about how you would really use a boat. While I would really love to have a 39-foot center console day boat with four high-horsepower engines, is it really what I need? Maybe, I am still working on convincing someone that I really do.
Talking with the Seakeeper folks they tell me that 75% of all new yachts longer than 39-feet are either equipped with a gyro stabilizer or is prewired for one. After looking around the show for a few days it is easy to believe. Not only is the cost of the gyro coming down, the power requirements and the physical sizes are also getting smaller. I am thinking that my new center console will need to have one of these.
Regarding the hassle of flying coast to coast and then back again I have also learned that the entire experience is much less inconvenient if you can stay away from the commercial airlines. Even the hour drive comute to the Bay to make the “sometime around 0900” departure was pleasant and much less stressful knowing the beautiful private jet plane would not leave without you. Even better is when you arrive at the jet center the security guard asks if you need to take the car planeside to offload your luggage.
I was also able to confirm something that I have known for some time, if you bring your editor/photographer/wife/captain along, the entire experience is much more fun.
Time for me to sit back, enjoy a good glass of port and light up a fine cigar while I dream of that center console with big ass engines and gyro and plan for my next boat show visit at the Seattle Boat Show. Until next month please keep those letters coming. Have a good story to tell, send me an email. pat firstname.lastname@example.org. I love a good story. H