the Stuart Boat Show 2021 open Friday with sunny skies and cool but comfortable temperatures. If it were another year, things at the Treasure Coast’s largest maritime trade show might look normal.
Most of the time, they are. However, just as we learn with all other aspects of life as we know it, there are also many things that are different.
Marine shearwater cleverly put cardboard cutouts of his sales staff in his booth, including QR codes in each photo. Scan the code and the seller’s phone number appears.
Exhibitors were busy on Friday meeting with socially distant customers when possible, but no one is quite sure what to expect in terms of customer traffic and boat sales over the weekend, said David Higgins, director. sales at Sovereign Yacht Sales by Stuart.
“We have no idea how many people we are going to see,” he said. “Being based in Martin County, we are not as susceptible to virus issues as people in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Boat sales for us have been great this year, but inventory has been down. our problem.”
The show is expected to see good traffic on Saturday and Sunday, said Tom Whittington, owner of Manatee Pocket Yacht Auction and vice-president of the Association of Marine Industries of the Treasury Coast, owner of the Stuart Boat Show.
“Based on the number of exhibitors and online ticket sales before the show starts, it should be a good show,” he said. “The weather is going to be a little too cool for boating.”
Stuart Boat Show
Sovereign showcased 20 boats at the Stuart Boat Show, all in the water along Pier E. The dealership brought in five manufacturers – sailing ship, Competitor, Sculptor, Regulator and Monterey – and several models of each.
Inventory has been a boating industry-wide problem for the past six months, Whittington said.
One of his goals this weekend is to meet new customers who are in the market to sell their boats so that he can put them in touch with potential buyers.
“We want to get new registrations because we sold 110 boats last year when we usually sell 60-75,” he said. “We just put a 77ft Lazarra up for sale, so we have boats coming up, but we need more. We also want to expose our current listings to new customers.”
The way his brokerage firm sold boats was unique, he said.
“Selling so many boats was really like the perfect storm,” he said. “We sold a few dozen boats where we never met the buyer and they never saw the boat until it was delivered to them. We used technology to help us in those sales, but we delivered ships from Tennessee to Texas. “
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New or used?
The Boat Show includes all classes of 12ft to 80ft powerboats, as well as boating equipment, accessories, clothing, knives, paddle boats, environmental groups, Bahamian tourist destinations, dealers in automobiles, fishing gear, marine electronics and services.
Finding the right boat will be the goal of many show enthusiasts, such as Cory Strong and Amy Smith of Stuart, who have been looking for a new boat for the past six months.
“We know the boat we want – a mid-size double console made by Robalo – but being our first boat we don’t want to go out there until we have had a chance to try it out,” said Strong.
That could mean waiting another six months.
“The dealership said we could book one and have it in June, which isn’t that bad, if we agree to make a down payment now,” he said. “But we haven’t even seen it yet.”
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The couple would be happy with a used boat, Smith said.
“But when you ask about a used person, they laugh at you,” she said. “There just isn’t one to have right now.”
Strong looks forward to the day when he can fish a little early in the morning, then meet Smith at the wharf for an afternoon of sailing and exploring.
The Boat Show is the largest annual fundraiser for the Marine Industries Association (MIATC), which aims to dedicate money to employment development.
“This year MIATC has partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County to provide more vocational training for a younger age group,” said Whittington. “We are going to devote some of that money to this effort.”
The Stuart Boat Show COVID protocols are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Social distancing and mask expectations (highly recommended) displayed at shuttle stops, entrances and throughout the show
- A maximum of 40 passengers will be allowed and masks are mandatory on the shuttles
- There will be no seminars
- Only two entry and exit points for the show
- The show staff will take the temperature of all participants at the entrance to the show
- Ticket sales are highly recommended online rather than in person
- Disposable masks will be provided at the entrances to the show
- More than 20 hand sanitizer stations will be positioned at bus stops, entrances and throughout the show
- Outdoor food court seating and table sizes will be reduced
If you are going to
- When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 16 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 17
- Or: On land and in water between 54 and 290 NW Dixie Highway, Stuart (northwest of Old Roosevelt Bridge)
- Cost: $ 15 adults, $ 13 veterans (at the gates of the show only), $ 8 children 12 and under
- Car park: $ 5 at the Wright Boulevard lot (north end of the show) and 827 NW Dixie Highway and Flying Fortress Lane at Witham Field near Monterey Road
- Other: Pets are not allowed
- More information: StuartBoatShow.com
- When: Until 3 p.m. on January 18
- Or: ¾ mile section of the North Dixie Freeway between Albany Avenue and Fern Street at the FEC crossing. Use US 1 on the Roosevelt Bridge as a detour.
Ed Killer is the outside writer for TCPalm. To interact with Ed, link him on Facebook to Ed Killer, follow him on Twitter @tcpalmekiller, or email him at [email protected]