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Old 29-09-2014, 09:54   #1
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How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

I've been lurking on the forum for a couple years, now I've finally joined. My wife and I are planning to depart for a Pacific cruise with our six children in about 24 months, so we are finally getting serious about looking at catamarans and we plan to make a purchase within about 12 months. My question is:

How do you best visit a boat show? My wife and I are going to the Annapolis show and I want to make the most of our two days there (Fri/Sat). I want to learn as much as possible and my only previous experience at a show was a couple hours at the Strictly Sail Pacific show last spring. Are there any "unwritten rules" about visiting boats, anything we should come prepared with, etc.? We are looking for something that 8 people can liveaboard but we don't mind being cozy, planning to purchase used. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

We would also love to meet up with any family cruisers at the show.

Thanks!
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Old 29-09-2014, 10:23   #2
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

I found boat shows very damaging, even evil. They damage my checkbook the most. So much stuff to buy and its all on sale. So cruel. I now avoid boat shows and just say no. I would recommend to anyone going to their first boat show to go with a S.O. and make sure both agree on a purchase before buying.

As far as purchasing a boat, I would do that outside of the boat shows. The problem is there are so many folks looking at boats at boat shows that nether you or brokers really have time to really talk about boats.

I think the biggest concern with a boat sized for eight people will be storage and tankage. This as most boats will say that they sleep 6 or 8, but that generally does not include clothing, food/water, etc. for 6 to 8 people. Just knowing that the large water heater is 11 gallons will put a damper on showers for 8 people. To be comfortably, a boat needs to not only sleep 8, but have space for all the stuff people wear, eat, etc. That will be the real challenge.
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Old 29-09-2014, 11:07   #3
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

Sounds like you want to get on as many cats as possible and have as many productive discussions with manufacturer reps as you can.

One piece of advice. Dress expensively. The boat reps pay more attention to those they perceive as real potential customers, as they are besieged by the throngs of those who are simply curious.

Go through the boats, take photos, take notes, and then go through them again. Your first run through will give you the over all context of what you get on what boats, in what size, and the range of features. The second trip will allow you to more directly compare boats to boats as you've seen them all.

There will be a good number of brokerage boats there...make sure you go on those as well to get a sense of what you can find in that market. Not comprehensive, but will give you a view of what's available.

If you can, bring sandwiches and water/drinks, or you'll waste time waiting in line at one of the overloaded restaurants.

The tents are basically parts accessories hardware and a some services. Skip them unless you end up having time to burn.
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Old 29-09-2014, 11:35   #4
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

Been to the Miami show the last two years.

If your going on boats, make sure you either where socks with no holes in them, or flip flops. Most boats you have to take your shoes off before they allow you on. Having a big toe stick out of a black sock is sooooo embarrasing and don't ask how I know.

It's nice to see all the new models, but delineate ahead of time what kind of boat your looking for. Sure, it's nice to be a looky loo at that Oyster 64 or that Island Packet 40, but if your price range is a Hunter 33, look for boats in a similar price range or size.

Try and understand what some of the different building practices of the various builders are.

Two days should allow you to look at most of the things you want. There is a lot of knowledge to be gained, not only with the boats being shown, but also all the additional vendors. Learn about winches, windlasses, anchors etc. etc. A lot of your sailing will be using those scantlings. Some manufacturers use only the least amount required to make things work, others use the best heavy duty scanting available. Understand the difference when looking at a boat, and much of that you can get in the tents.

Take some time searching here on Cruisers Forums, and don't be afraid to ask. There is not only a lot of experience here, but a lot of expertise also.

And, as you will learn, a lot of opinion!
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Old 29-09-2014, 12:17   #5
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

My advice is don't go.

Unless you have hit the lottery or come into a massive amount of money in some other way (like well over $2Mil) you are just setting yourself up for disappointment.

You will not be able to afford any of the shinny new boats. And going on the brand new, large catamarans will just put unrealistic expectations in your minds. As a result, when you go and look at the used catamarans you can afford you will not like them because you will be comparing them to the nice, new ones. Instead spend the time looking at used catamarans that are in your price range.

Once you own a boat, then go and look at the new boats to get upgrade ideas, scope out new electronics, etc. and attend the seminars.

Good luck and fair winds,

Jesse
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Old 29-09-2014, 12:18   #6
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

Look at as many of the boats as possible to see what you like, and just as importantly, what you do not like. Once you have whittled the list down a bit go back and look at the boat as if you would be living on the boat.

  • Look at the heads, are the large enough? Too big?
  • Can you actually take a shower in the shower? How about the bath?
  • Can your wife shave her legs in the bath/shower space?
  • Is the galley laid out to your liking?
  • Is their enough storage for plates, glasses, cookware, silverware, and food?
  • How much power/energy is consumed by the galley appliances?
  • Power consumption on other electrical devices?
  • How much battery storage, where are the batteries and can they be easily replaced?
  • Is there enough solar and wind power generation to power your general use devices?
  • Can you access the engine to do basic maintenance?
  • Can you rebuild the engine in place? If not can the engine be sorta easily removed?
  • Is there room for tools, extra oil, spare parts?
  • Are the seats comfortable?
  • Is there enough storage space for long term storage?
  • Is there enough storage space for things you need every day?
Unless you already know what boat you want, I can't imagine buying a boat at a boat show. I did see a boat similar to what we want sell at the Trawler Fest in WA. The seller got pretty close to asking price which I think was a fair/good price for both seller and buyer.


Later,
Dan
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Old 29-09-2014, 12:26   #7
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

As a vendor at all the major shows and someone who cruised pacific mexico with our kids here is some advice:

1. DO NOT COME ON THE WEEKEND
If you want any real time to seriously looking at the boats. The weekends are just too busy with way too many people that just want to drink and walk around for the weekend. Go during the week for the best learning and getting to talk to people experience.

2. Don't believe anything a slick boat show salesman tells you. I know it sounds harsh to say but ask how many of the boat or gear salesman have been cruising themselves and my friend it is a small number. Lots are used car salesmen on loan from the used car lot for the week.
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Old 29-09-2014, 12:33   #8
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

Thanks for all the thoughts. I'm definitely not planning on buying a boat at this show, I just spend time on a lot of different boats so I can start to narrow down the field as we're looking for one to purchase. They all look functional on a floor plan and website, don't they!

I wish there were lots of used cats near me to look at, but Lake Tahoe is a little short on catamarans for sale, and SF Bay doesn't have much more. So I guess I'll have to "mentally age" the new boats as I look at them.
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Old 29-09-2014, 13:01   #9
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

There will be used boats at the show and more to see nearby. The brokerage dealers there will direct you.


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Old 29-09-2014, 16:08   #10
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

In addition to catamarans at the boat show...

There's at least one cat brokerage or dealer or something in Spa Creek (across the bridge from the show) and another on the South River at the junction with Solomon's Island Rd (MD Route 2), southeast bank. You could consider going through some of the other cats they have in stock, to compare with those you can see at the show. And that'll give you some time to get to know specific brokers, which might turn out to help when you actually get ready to purchase.

And... you may find boats you like at the show... that have older versions on the used (secondary) market, that might be more attractive in the long run due to price, etc.

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Old 29-09-2014, 16:22   #11
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

[QUOTE=avb3;1640704]Been to the Miami show the last two years.

And yet I don't remember you stopping by to say "Hi" once.

Better not make it a third year
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Old 29-09-2014, 18:47   #12
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

Back in 2004 when Kelly and I decided we were eventually going to purchase a catamaran, we decided to attend each Sydney International Boat Show to check out the various models available. At that time we thought we wanted a Seawind 1160. However, after the first show we went to, we changed our mind as the Lightwave 35 (38 is virtually identical) was a little smaller but a better layout for us. Since that time we went to at least every second show and checked out the opposition but we never changed our mind.

This year we purchased a Lightwave 38 (second hand) and so far cannot complain about it as a vessel.

I would say to have some idea of your budget and what that will get you in the new (or second hand market - not clear on your intention). This will then help you know which boats you should be looking at. No point looking at a 65' one when your budget is 45'.

Other things to consider are do you need more than one head/shower? I would say no, even with a big family. They take up room and there is double the maintenance. Galley size and location will be important for a family.

Finally, as some others have commented, most yacht salesmen (and most seem to be men) are only just above real estate and used car salesmen in how they deal with their customers. We encountered some who wanted to talk to me (because I was the male) whereas it was my wife who was the one enquiring and going to be the person who made the decision. Others ignored what we said about our desires (we only wanted to purchase a Lightwave) and tried to interest us in other brands and even told people selling such boats that we might be interested. We even told one broker that we would no longer deal with one salesman and if they wanted to sell the boat to us, put someone else on the sale. They did and we ended up buying it.

Anyway, good luck with your trip and I hope it all works out for you. A 24 month time frame is a good one, but in the end the time will pass very quickly and you may end up rushed towards the planned starting date.
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Old 30-09-2014, 10:18   #13
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

I'll be at the show on Saturday, staying at the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront. If you want, leave a note for me at the front desk, and I'll buy you a beverage at Pussers. I've been sailing for over 45 years, but I'm taking some neophyte friends along on the "Take The Wheel" experience (Seminars on Sailing | Annapolis Boat Shows). Although I just recently bought my next powerboat, I'm now working on buying my next large monohull (Pacific Seacraft), and saw this seminar series as a great refresher for me, and an eye-opener for my friends.
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Old 30-09-2014, 14:38   #14
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

That's a good idea to look up the cat/charter companies in town. The Catamaran Company has a location right before Bert Jabin's on Back Creek, and Dreamyacht Charters has a whole bunch of different catamarans that they charter, most of them at Port Annapolis Marina as far as I know. I know that there will be a couple of 48' cats in the show...one from Leopard and one from The Moorings, as they are cleaning them up for the show right now. Also a 45' and 52' Lagoon will be there. Was on the 52' last week, as it was slipped next to a shore party for a race. Dear lord, the bridgedeck on that thing must be two stories up.
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Old 30-09-2014, 15:16   #15
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Re: How to "do" a boat show (for "first-timers")?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JK n Smitty View Post
My advice is don't go.

Unless you have hit the lottery or come into a massive amount of money in some other way (like well over $2Mil) you are just setting yourself up for disappointment.

You will not be able to afford any of the shinny new boats. And going on the brand new, large catamarans will just put unrealistic expectations in your minds.
I always think this is 'by person'. I myself wanted a $50k BMW, so I bought a 2003 530i for $10k with 80,000 miles on it (the original owner paid $50k). It's new to me, rides great, and has more bells and whistles than my older car.

As for boats, I'm not sure I'd want a $1 mil boat even if I could afford it - I'd just worry about it too much (unless of course I was so flush with cash that I didn't worry about it). In fact, my ideal boat, where I love the design and layout and mechanics - comes with too much OTHER stuff to break and fix.

I am probably heading to the Annapolis show this year for the first time, to soak up as much knowledge as possible.

~ Following C's ~
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