I Survived the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show

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2014 Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show Special ▶

And all I got was 22 free T-shirts from a bunch of different boat companies.

Boat shows feel a lot like the football and baseball camps I used to go to when I was growing up. Super-tiring, lots of fun, and your base of knowledge about the thing you’re studying grows in leaps and bounds compared to your normal day to day. And then there’s the relationships you make with people. Just like at camp, they move at warp speed, owing to the ludicrous amount of time you’re spending together. At one boat show, I met a new colleague on a Thursday, and by Sunday I felt absolutely obligated to invite that person to my wedding. The invite got negged by my old lady though. She sagely pointed out that I had only known the guy for four days. A fair point.

At the shows I carry a waterproof waxed-canvas bag that always has a stock of granola bars and 5-Hour Energy drinks. You never know when you’re going to come across (edible) food at these things, and nobody wants to drink hot coffee outside in Florida in October. I carry a notebook of course, but I don’t use it. 

A good pair of shoes is paramount. I switched from the classic Sperry boat shoe to a Sperry sneaker last year and haven’t looked back. I’d estimate I walk at least about ten miles a day during the Lauderdale show. I always tell myself I’m going to bring one of those distance trackers that runners use to see how far it actually is, but I always forget. Another thing I always say I’m going to bring with me but never do—a poncho. Every single year we’re good for one good-old-fashioned South Floridian downpour at the show. And every year I tell myself I’m going to pack rain gear, and then when I’m packing for the next show I never actually do, thinking Nah it won’t rain … it’s the Sunshine State! What can I say? Unflagging optimism, it’s my cross to bear.

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