A boat show can be a place to loose yourself to the bliss of a favorite passion or a place to completely loose your sanity.   My hubby and I have attended many shows over the decades and I would like to share some insight with you so you’ll be able to enjoy yourself more.

  • The first bit of advice is to look for tickets on the Internet.  Often you can get a better price if you order online and print them out.  One of our favorite shows offers free parking and a free cup of chowder with each ticket purchased on line.  Plus, when we arrive we get to pass go and head straight to the front of the line for admission.
  • Think about the weather ahead of time.  In the Pacific Northwest chances are it’s going to be cold and possibly raining.  So we dress in layers accordingly and bring provisions for carrying those layers if the weather heats up and for when we venture inside buildings as well.  If you’ll be visiting in hot sunny weather, don’t forget a hat and sunscreen.
  • We know too, that we’ll walk countless miles and that some of those miles will have to be without shoes.  So, easy on…easy off shoes that are comfortable to walk in are the best.  That way I’m not unlacing sneakers or worse, getting off boots, to board a boat I want to look at.  I also pack my socks away if it’s rainy outside; wet socks make my feet cold.  This in turn makes me grumpy and tired.  Although if you’re at an inside boat show you can probably leave the socks on.
  • I like to bring a backpack with me.  A smaller day pack seems to work well for me.  I can stash my wallet, keys and phone (ladies don’t bring a purse and guys carry your own stuff!) and I still have room for the brochures I’m going to take.  Plus it gives me a place to put my extra layers if the weather warms up.
  • Bring cash in small bills with you.  You’ll find lots of places to buy snacks and lattes and having small bills is very much appreciated by those vendors.
  • On the topic of money.  There are many great deals at the boat shows.  However, most dealers will give you the boat show discount if you’re seriously thinking about buying from them and do buy shortly after the show.  Keep in mind, not all will but most will, ask them.  At least on the really big items like a new boat.  So, unless you’re at the end of your boat buying odyessy, hold off on the deal and think about it.  Buyers remorse can be quite painful, although if you’re looking for that non-stretch tow rope then you should probably go for it!
  • Be sure to pick up a directory/map of the show.  Take a moment to look it over and circle the boats and displays you definitely want to see.  We like to get a latte and sit down and look over the boats and vendors and then map out our plan of attack.  For us, it’s not just seeing the boats etc. it’s also social chit-chat with the vendors we know.  We plan ahead and know what and who we want to see and just map them out when we arrive.  We have to have a plan or we’d never see all we want to!
  • I don’t generally take a camera with me, as I don’t want to carry the extra weight.  However, this year I’m considering it as I may want to write an article here about something I see.
  • I always take a small note pad with me.  It’s amazing how a few days later my hubby and I can confuse which boat we liked really well with one we didn’t care for, not to mention what the sales person had to say.
  • Many boat shows offer lectures and these can run from horribly boring to so wonderful the time flew past.  I finally talked my hubby into attending one a few years ago.  It fell into the horribly boring category and he said he’d never do another.  Last year his back was giving him trouble and he needed to sit for a while.  I got him into a class given by a well know cruising couple, it was in the wonderful category.  It changed his whole opinion about these classes.  So again, plan ahead. Generally the classes are listed by date and time on the Internet.
  • You may find some of the boats you’d like to see require you to fill out an information card.  Don’t be afraid to do so.  If you’re worried you can ask about the companies privacy policy and you can write on it that you don’t want your information shared with anyone.  Sometimes the sale person’s company just wants to have a head count of people their employee talks with.
  • Now let’s talk about kids.  As you know, we have a daughter.  When she was little she wasn’t allowed to run through a boat like some little hellion.  I am appalled by some of the kids I see running through expensive new boats without a parent.  They’re just kids and haven’t a clue that beds aren’t for jumping on and doors aren’t for slamming.  So, please keep an eye on yours.  Also, if you have little ones, take a moment to go over what to do if they get lost.  If you’re at an on the water show, put a vest on them!
  • We have learned over the years that our favorite show is just too big to see everything in one day.  If you only get one day then see the important to you stuff first as the day will slip past before you know it.  This year we’re planning on 3 days at our favorite show.  I could go everyday it’s there but that would be ridiculous!

If you have additional advice that helps you when you’re ‘dock walloping’ (walking the docks looking at boats for sale) please comment below, together we can help each other. Please, remember to help out if you can.

1 Comment posted on "How to survive a boat show without losing your mind"
Strictly Sail Pacific 2008 on April 8th, 2008 at 11:06 am #

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