Passage Maker - - Contents -

Wade Luce, Will Carlsen,

De­ter­mined boat buy­ers, bar­gain-hunters, gear heads, and tire-kick­ers have al­ready be­gun their like-clock­work mi­gra­tion to boat show-host­ing cities around the globe. In Europe, there are well-re­garded events in Cannes, Genoa, Southamp­ton, Am­s­ter­dam, and St. Peters­burg. In the States, get aboard the carousel in the North­east, start­ing in yachts­man’s dar­ling, New­port, Rhode Is­land, and keep turn­ing un­til you ar­rive in An­napo­lis, Fort Laud­erdale, or Mi­ami. Fort Laud­erdale’s show is so big that an es­ti­mated value of the in­ven­tory lin­ing the docks ap­proaches $5 bil­lion, while mil­lions more are pumped into the lo­cal econ­omy.

In the west, Van­cou­ver, Seat­tle and South­ern Cal­i­for­nia host mul­ti­ple shows each year, and con­tin­u­ing far­ther around the Pa­cific Rim, two more in Aus­tralia com­bine with nascent ef­forts in Sin­ga­pore and China to book­end the an­nual world­wide boat­show car­ni­val.

Through­out each year, these events amount to a stu­pen­dous dis­play of wares in an end­less com­pe­ti­tion to pro­mote the lat­est nau­ti­cal in­no­va­tions, from ther­mal imag­ing cam­eras to toi­lets, ten­ders, and fend­ers. This is a multi-bil­lion-dol­lar merry-go-round.

Re­cently I had the plea­sure of kick­ing off my show sea­son in Rock­land, Maine. Af­ter back-to-back tours of Sabre Yachts’ im­pres­sive fa­cil­ity in Ray­mond and Back Cove’s plant in Rock­land, I ven­tured to the small, quaint, and di­gestible Maine Boats, Homes & Har­bors show where Back Cove’s new 32 was mak­ing her de­but. I was told that see­ing the show wouldn’t take long—and it didn’t. But in many ways it was more im­pres­sive than the mon­ster shows that I’ll at­tend later this year.

Tal­ented artists—who form part of the bedrock of Maine’s in­her­ent coastal charm—dis­played paint­ings, pho­tog­ra­phy, even hand-em­broi­dered caps. An­other trade­mark was the flour­ish of marine an­tiques. The flot­sam and jet­sam and sal­vaged brass doo­dads on dis­play here, and all along Maine’s coastal an­tique shops, would make Ad­mi­ral FitzRoy blush. I was drawn to a large brass tele­graph that was sal­vaged off a com­mer­cial ship. It was my turn to blush at the $700 price tag.

Af­ter shuf­fling past the tents burst­ing with lo­cal ar­ti­sans, hand-built wooden dories, and pocket-size lob­ster boats, I headed to the docks. The show takes up a small foot­print, but the qual­ity is top-notch: Ly­man-Morse, Hinck­ley, Wil­bur, Sabre, Amer­i­can Tug. I’ll cover the Back Cove 32 in greater de­tail soon, but suf­fice to say that the 32 will make her fair share of ap­pear­ances up and down a coast near you.

So if you go ev­ery year—or if you’ve never been to one, ever— make sure to head to your near­est boat show. Whether you’re an am­a­teur or a pro­fes­sional tire-kicker, you never know what kind of nau­ti­cal in­ge­nu­ity is on dis­play at the next booth over.

Just don’t for­get your pock­et­book.

Top: The docks at the Maine Boats, Homes & Har­bors show. Above: Ex­am­ple of the built-by-hand tra­di­tion on dis­play in Rock­land, Maine.

Ed­i­tor-In-Chief ed­i­tor@pas­sage­maker.com

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