Skip to main content

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s boat show season in America and Europe. Many of us live within an easy drive or quick flight to great destination shows such as Newport, Annapolis, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, and dozens of smaller exhibitions. In Europe, Southampton, Cannes, Monaco and Düsseldorf rule the waves.

Builders, brokers, dealers, service companies and equipment manufacturers gather at these events to showcase the latest models and technology. While there is some overlap in boat lineups, you’ll see or learn something new at every one of these large shows. And each venue offers a unique experience inside the gates and out.

For those of us who live in four-season climates, the fall and winter shows offer a chance to see what the boating industry has conjured up for next spring. We may love what we have, but who among us doesn’t harbor the fantasy of going newer, bigger, better or just different?

In our current issue, you’ll find information on the 59th Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and the 50th installment of boot Düsseldorf in Germany. Fort Lauderdale offers visitors an incredible selection of boats from inflatables to superyachts, spread over six venues—five of them outdoors in the glorious late-fall Florida sunshine—with beaches, restaurants and numerous side-trip options. Boot Düsseldorf is a different animal, but equally impressive. It blows me away with its variety of boat-related stuff and activities spread through 16 massive exhibit halls. The idea of Germany in January may not light your fire, but the show is fantastic, and there’s plenty to do in the city and many opportunities for piggyback winter getaways.

One thing that this year’s shows should correct is the mistaken impression that the American large-yacht building industry is in decline. While that may be true to a degree, a number of our native shipyards are very much alive and well. Several are capable of building nearly anything a large-yacht client wants, at a level of finish that rivals that of the marquis European yards. In the current issue, we offer a guide to the top builders in America. No one in the know should leave these yards out of the equation when considering a new build.

And, while you’re in a Stars and Stripes state of mind, consider this: The U.S. Congress passed the John S. McCain National Defense Act of 2019. The bill, which the president signed in August, contained an amendment that will make it easier for owners of recreational vessels (non-commercial) to fly the U.S. ensign. Read about that in the current issue, too, and know that the U.S. Superyacht Association and others championed the effort, which spanned about a decade. Kudos to all who made it happen. The bill directs the U.S. Coast Guard to develop a long-overdue American large yacht code. It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the U.S. large-yacht building industry, but it’s a step in the right direction.

No matter what size yacht interests you, I’d suggest planning a winter vacation around a boat show. Take the kids or grandkids and share the sport we love. You won’t be sorry. —Kenny Wooton