The Republican National Convention? Yup, Capt. Bill Pike here, in Cleveland, site of the wild and wooly RNC. Next week… same deal with the Democratic National Convention. Watch for a big election story in the October issue of Power & Motoryacht. And join me on Facebook and Twitter for all the festivities. It'll be interesting—I guarantee.
Does this look like your average hot afternoon at the boat show? Well, not quite. This event took place yesterday, just a stone's throw from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, site of this year's Republican National Convention. It was sponsored by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, facilitated by boatbuilders, boat dealers, engine folks, outfitters, and a host of others from all over the country, and intended to impress not the public at large but congressmen, congress women, lobbyists, delegates, and journalists (folks from TheWall Street Journal dropped by, hoping for a boat ride) with how important the boat business is to the national economy.
One other biggie distinguished this show from every other show I've ever been to: tons of security. Early yesterday morning, before the event started, I watched members of the U.S. Coast Guard search each and every boat in the marina, undoubtedly for explosives. Shortly after that, scuba divers went into the marina's depths to (according to a police officer on the scene) make sure there were no mines or other explosives under or around the slips. Moreover, it was later rumored among the attendees that sharpshooters were observing the festivities from the roofs of surrounding buildings. And much later, during the afternoon, boat rides that had been scheduled were cancelled because of the proximity of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
"I was told that if I took my boat out of the marina," said John Robertson, who was poised to give rides onboard his 48-foot Sabre Bumboat, "I would not be able to bring her back… because the security people here could not be sure I wasn't bringing something or somebody along that wouldn't be welcome."
Will security at the NMMA-sponsored "boat show" next week at the Democratic National Convention be as tight? I'll soon head to Philadelphia to find out. And then, based on my experiences at both conventions, I'll write a story about boaters and the election, with lots of photos and reporting, for the October issue of Power & Motoryacht. Please stay tuned.
President of North Carolina's Regulator Marine, Joan Maxwell (above, with Regulator dealer Rocky Piacentino of Catawba Moorings, Inc. of Port Clinton, Ohio) showed up well before the start of the event to set up her display. She said she was determined to convince visiting politicos that the U.S. marine industry is comprised of many small sectors (dealerships, marinas, builders, equipment manufacturers, etc.) that, when combined, constitute a very large business segment that pretty much equals the size of many large corporate enterprises. "We're a community of small businesses," she said, "but we're really big, big business in the aggregate."
Some of the congressmen in attendance were boaters. For example, Tom MacArthur (above, right), representing the Third District of New Jersey, owns a Hinckley Talaria 48 called Darling. We see him here talking boats (as well as taxes and immigration) with Correct Craft president and CEO Bill Yeargin of Orlando, Florida.
Not all of the boat show goers were congressmen and delegates. Marion Warren (right) and Chad Price were representing the judicial take on the marine scene. Warren is the director of North Carolina's Administrative Office of the Courts, and Price headed up a team that helped put North Carolina's current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on the bench. "Owning a boat is a big part of the American Dream," Price said. "We bring almost as much passion to it as owning an automobile."