Capt. Bill’s Boat Show Regime

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Sometimes no plan is the best plan of all.

Oh, I know it. I should evince more personal development and maturity at this stage of the game. But hey, what can I say. I attend boat shows pretty much the same way today as I did when I was a kid, almost five decades ago. Which means, of course, that I stroll around, with a beat-up carrying bag in hand (for brochures, trinkets dispersed at press events, candy bars, bottles of water, and sun block, which I rarely use, to my wife’s dismay), just looking at boats, from canoes to megayachts, and talking to people. About the only things I haul along on my daily pilgrimages that transcend childhood habits are a notebook and a bunch of pens.

But hey, I usually have a total ball, though, since boats constitute one of my life’s most all-consuming, totally interesting, and fun-generating subjects. And what’s more, I find the folks who build boats, sell them, and own them pretty darn interesting and compelling too.

Yeah, I do the press conferences, or at least most of them, because you never know exactly what you’re going to see—I remember at one show some years back Don Johnson, the actor, came roaming out of the crowd shaking hands. At another show some years back I saw a Cecil B. DeMille-type raceboat-related production with a rather incongruous Middle Eastern motif, an orchestra playing Middle Eastern music, and about 20 gyrating belly dancers doing what belly dancers do best. And yet another year offered a boat ride to a little island where a bunch of engineers from an engine company were cooking burgers and hot dogs! I was told by some magazine bigwig at the time that I didn’t have the leisure for an island lunch, but I went nevertheless. The burgers were totally worth it. The boat ride was, too. And I haven’t seen the bigwig in years.

But listen. An efficiency expert would probably tell me, if consulted today, that I’ve been covering boat shows the wrong way for the past 27 years. “The time you waste,” the expert would say, “is unconscionable. Get it together, man!”

But you know. Keeping things low-key, unstructured, and pleasant has its virtues. And having the time to talk with folks, whoever they are, almost always generates more truly interesting and entertaining stuff, like rumors, stories, and insider info, than might be garnered otherwise. So maybe I’ll see you at the show (I certainly hope so), although I’m not sure where I’ll be at any given time.

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2014 Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show Special ▶

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