What exactly is a "boat show"? Sounds pretty basic - unless you haven't been to one before. As a South Florida transplant who wasn't around boats much while growing up in the Midwest, I could see myself asking this puzzled question. Hearing about the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, I might well wonder, "Okay, yeah. What is a boat show anyway?" I mean, obviously you expect to see boats sitting around. Somewhere, somehow. But where and how? And what do you do when you're there? So as Greater Fort Lauderdale prepares to open the 55th edition of the world's largest boat show, let me tell you about this event based on my own experience at previous shows.
First of all, expect crowds - but happy crowds, interested and interesting crowds. Not all of them monied folks by any means but people from various economic and social backgrounds, all milling and gawking and generally having a good time. For details about where to park and how to get where you're going, check out this link: http://www.showmanagement.com/fort_lauderdale/event/transportation. Options include park and ride as well as the water taxi. The show runs from October 30 through November 3, by the way.
After you arrive, you'll find yourself at one of six marinas or at the convention center. It's fun to catch the indoor scene at the convention center, where large vessels indeed are sitting around, much like a car show. There's just something about seeing so many boats displayed in that way all at once as you wander among them and think, "Wow, I'd like to own that one! And that one!" But make sure to head to some outdoor venue too. To me, the marinas offer the boat show at its best. All right, so you get inside the marina gate and maybe you're a bit hungry or thirsty. Normally you'll spot food vendors who offer a variety of tasty meals. Then you simply start walking among the docks, where many of the boats are tied up. Floating within arms reach, billions of dollars worth of them. Boats of all kinds. Yachts and superyachts and megayachts, high performance boats and fishing boats and sailing yachts as well as just about anything and everything else that can carry a human being across water. It's all there for you ... for the price of a ticket. To visualize it, imagine yourself at any marina you've visited. Then picture that place filled with many of the most impressive yachts available anywhere in the world, most of them bobbing on the water, some of them planted firmly on dry land. You may saunter through a few tents along the way, with all things marine for sale including engines and generators. And electronics and diving equipment. And jewelry and hats and caps and sunglasses. Stuff that even I could afford. I hope you're getting the idea. There's plenty to do at this boat show, whether or not you can write a huge check for a megayacht - or a kayak. Not to worry. The best part of a boat show for the majority of visitors is just the chance to dream a little, catching a close-up glimpse of vessels we might like to own but never will - and pausing for a moment to fantasize. The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is a place for that. For most of us, it's what a boat show really is all about.