Boat shows mean different things to different people. They're kinda like the town you live in. Where you lived when you first moved to your town, who you met and became friends with, where you work - these are the things that make your town feel the way it does. Someone else in the same town has probably had a very different experience. They came for different reasons, moved into a different neighborhood, came from a different place.
Folks who come to the boat show often come for different reasons and experience the show in different ways. Some people come for the deals, the dream of owning a boat, seminars, the chance to walk aboard a boat you'll probably never be able to afford, for commercial purchases, and more.
This is our third winter show here in Seattle (there is another annual outdoor-only show in the Fall on Lake Union). Our first show was before we had purchased and moved aboard our sailboat. The second was our upgrade show - what can we buy at a discount for the boat? Now, the big number three.
Any local boaters who attend the show annually probably have discovered what we found out back on our second tour - it doesn't change much year to year. Especially if you already own a boat and you're not looking to upgrade. The layout and vendors are very similar to past shows (I'm sure it's not worth the headache to move things around each year) and even the seminars (which are great & free!) have a few repeat performances.
So, we do what we love doing - we pick a handful of things at the show to feature. We look for different things than we've featured in the past. Our choices are not based on advertising, discounts, or freebies (although we're not against getting free boaty stuff!). It's basically, what looks interesting? We finish this post up with some suggestions to make the show better and attract even more people, especially a younger demographic that the industry needs to survive. Let's have a look!
In some ways similar to Northwest's own OAR Northwest, Epoch Expeditions is another crazy, adventurous, and educational outfit that rows across oceans and more. Check out their website to see how you can get involved in their next expedition on land or sea!
Coeur D' Alene custom wood boats are shiny, smooth, & sweeeeeeet.
They're the best thing to come out of Idaho since Sarah Pali - err - I mean, potatoes. Check them out here and get started on the boat of your dreams!
Although I like wearing my Xtratuf boots around town after a long day of sailing/working/kayaking, my wife will be happy to know I can fit into the new xtratuf shoes instead…pow!
It turns out a recession is the perfect time to launch a hot tub boat company. Made right here in Seattle, these boats are perfect for a little Lake Union cruise/soak. Rentals are available…Best birthday present ever. Reserve now!
This one needed three pics (click on them to enlarge). Tucked in a quiet corner of the show were three of the coolest boats. They came from Antique & Classic Boat Society - a international organization with a large and active Northwest Chapter. Great people, great boats, and lots of great stories.
I don't think Hobie gets the serious look it deserves when you're talking about Northwest sailing & kayaking. These boats could fly you up and down the Puget Sound…the only tricky part - where to store the boats when you're not using them - these things are pretty giant. If I lived in a house by the water I'd get one for sure.
Not one, but two big sailboats inside this year. Signature Yachts & Beneteau made a nice showing with a couple of beauties - a 37' and a 45'. Touring the decks and down below was great but, despite the hassle, they've got to put the masts up indoors. I heard more than one group of people explaining that these were in fact sailboats…:)
After our visit we read a few great articles from local bloggers about the show. One talked numbers - attendance at the show was down (especially to the Lake Union portion - which we skipped this year too). The good news was that reports claim that vendor interest and purchases were up.
A different post, but related, was about the state of sailing in the Sound - is sailing (versus power boating) getting less popular here in the Northwest? Does our boat show reflect this?
Amber (captain wifey) and I talked and brainstormed about what was lacking at the show for us, keeping in mind that shows mean different things to different people. We came up with a few suggestions for future Seattle boat shows…7 ideas to move the show into the future and attract more guests, buyers, and young sailors.
This is the kinda stuff that, for us at least, would breathe new life into the show. It would make us want to come and spend money even though we already have a boat (and no money:) Sure, half of it is too expensive to pull off but it is the direction the Seattle Boat Show needs to go to modernize for the next generation of Northwest Boaters!
~Paul & Amber ETC
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