By David Gee
On our last day at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, managing editor Adam Quandt and I had an interesting conversation with our Uber driver on the way to the show. I'll share a bit of it.
Uber driver: So you're going to the big boat show, huh? Us: Yep. Uber driver: Are you going to buy a boat? Us: We wish! No, we are with the media, and we are going to cover the boat show for a boating industry trade publication. Uber driver: What's the name of the publication? Us: Boating Industry. Uber driver: Well that seems like a good title. Do you both boat yourselves? Us: We are on the water every chance we get. It's by far our favorite recreational pastime. Uber driver: So let me get this straight. You write about boats and the boating industry for a living, and when you're not at work you like to go boating as often as possible? Us: Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Uber driver: Well, I guess you guys are pretty lucky then. Us: Yes we are!
And if you like lots of boats, and lots of people, and lots of sunshine and logging lots of steps on your activity tracker, then you would be lucky to spend a week in South Florida during FLIBS.
On my last day I began with the world premiere of the Ocean Alexander 84R. Now we don't normally have a lot to do with the yachting industry, but if someone wants to take me through the inner workings and design of a brand-new, 84-foot, $7 million vessel, and feed me a breakfast sandwich and a "gourmet" donut at the same time, I'm there.
As we walked through the boat, I imagined what it would be like to make decisions about floor and wall coverings, and what color we wanted the furniture in the salon to be, and whether we preferred the four-person Jacuzzi or the barbecue set-up on the aft deck. Some day it would be awesome to make those decisions. That would have to be the same day my Powerball numbers were the right ones. Oh well, it's good to dream, especially on the docks of a boat show.
From there I went to the Okean Yachts display. The Okean 50 Flybridge had piqued my curiosity when it first came out, but this was my first opportunity to see it in person. Towards the stern, the gunwales actually fold down to create this wide terrace that gives you an amazing amount of aft space and volume for a 50-foot boat. Below there were two full staterooms and enough headroom for a tall guy like me to stand up straight in. It's a lot more affordable than the Ocean Alexander, but still likely in the dream category for me.
After that, I walked with Adam through the part of the show with the boats that are a little more in our sweet spot. We saw the latest offerings from Sea Ray, Boston Whaler, Grady-White, Pursuit, Intrepid, Regal, Monterey and Blackfin among others.
We also saw the "Lexus" LY 650 flybridge cruiser that has been two-and-a-half years in development. As you may know, it is being built in collaboration with Marquis Yachts in Wisconsin. One of the leading nautical design studios, Nuvolari Lenard, has also been involved with the design process. It looks pretty stunning from the outside, but every time we tried to board to check out the interior, there was a waiting line of 12-15 people. Good for them.
On our last day we ran into someone from the industry who tracks marine sales. He claimed that during the first three days of the show FLIBS saw sales of $100 million each day. There is no way to verify that figure, but the number of SOLD signs displayed on various boats certainly would seem to indicate the activity level was high.
After walking 15 miles, and attending 20 press events and world product premieres between us, saying hi to old friends, and meeting new ones, we certainly left Fort Lauderdale on a high.
It got me excited for Miami, but in the interim, we will be hosting our Elevate conference in Orlando at the end of the month. Hope to see many of you at both places!