by Bob Wonders
The 49th Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show ends yesterday (November 3 Sunday, US time) with show visitors treated to a magnificent extravaganza of boats and marine equipment estimated at more than USD$ three billion!
The incredible Bahia Mar display at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show - Fort Lauderdale boat show
Spread over an astonishing six separate venues, the show can easily lay claim to being the world’s largest, particularly for its ability to attract the world’s foremost superyacht builders.
The show occupies the Bahia Mar facility, the Las Olas Marina, the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Centre, the Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel and Yacht Club, including the Pier 66 Marina, and the Hall of Fame Marina.
Big boats, small boats, boating accessories, marine electronics, furnishing, jewellery, fishing tackle, all manner of marine engines, insurance and finance, you name it, Fort Lauderdale will have it.
We know that Australian builders Maritimo and Riviera were among the exhibitors; we’ve yet to hear from Riviera, while Maritimo’s globe-trotting marketing manager Peter Jenkins is aboard an aircraft somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on his way home at time of writing.
Visitor attendance and sales achieved are not yet known, but with the world economic woes the results could give some indication of the state of the industry.
Fort Lauderdale remains one of my all-time favourite US cities and visiting the annual boat show should be high on the agenda of anyone with an interest in recreational boating.
Let me take you for a ‘walk’ through this astonishing exhibition.
Bahia Mar is a good start and here is we visit the ‘Superyacht Showcase’ where the vessels, in excess of 24.38-metres (80’) overall, create an amazing waterfront display.
A massive (60,000 square feet and fully air conditioned) marque is also here, where we find the Yacht Builders and Designers display, showing the best of the best in custom yacht engineering, design and décor.
The International Yacht Builders Pavilion displays many of the imported vessels on display, while other exhibits show off the latest marine engines, gensets and air conditioning systems for all manner of craft from small and mid-sized boats to superyachts.
Bahia Mar also features an impressive on-water display apart from the superyachts, with sportfshing rigs, sportboats, family cruisers, trawler style boats, inflatables and personal watercraft.
Here we’ll also find one of the more popular attractions, the International Food Garden and, would you believe, floating cocktail barges and live entertainment.
The Las Olas Marina displays a large contingent of brokerage vessels and is also reserved elsewhere for multihull craft, sort of a ‘cat haven.’
As usual, US builder Sea Ray staged an impressive showing at Fort Lauderdale, this all-new sportboat among the stars. - Ft Lauderdale
Next stop is the convention centre which, as is the case at the Miami Beach Convention Centre, displays smaller boats, fishing tackle, engines, accessories, nautical clothing, jewellery, marine artwork, décor and furnishings.
Opposite each other on the Intracoastal Waterway, the Grande Hotel and Pier 66 each have a wide range of boats, large and not so large, to tempt buyers.
Getting around Fort Lauderdale is a fairly simple (and quite enjoyable) task; as was the case earlier this year in Miami, free shuttle buses, sponsored by Raymarine run non-stop and there are water shuttles sponsored by Yanmar Marine.
Free riverboats also ply their trade from the Las Olas riverfront.
It really is a wonderful city to visit and as far as boat shows go this is the one you really must see.
For detailed information visit the website, www.showmanagement.com
Looks like plenty of business being done in one Fort Lauderdale's giant marquees. - Ft Lauderdale
Show visitors throng the dock at the Bahia Mar Marina. - Fort Lauderdale