5 things to know before attending a boat show

An in-water boat show

Boat show season is upon us! Before you head out, you should prepare. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of a boat show:

Wear slip-on shoes đź”—

You’re going to be taking your shoes on and off all day! You’ll probably want to wear socks, too. Most exhibitors at a boat show will ask you to take your shoes off before you take a look around a boat. They do this so you don’t scratch the boat, which will probably end up being sold; the floor models aren’t just for demos. You’ll probably even encounter some boats that have already been sold when you’re checking them out, so you need to be extra careful with those – the new owner will appreciate it.

Take notes đź”—

Boat shows present an overwhelming amount of information. Unless you’re one of the few people blessed with a photographic memory, it’s all going to blur together by the time you get home. Whether you use pen & paper, your phone, or SailsGoal, I recommend you take lots of notes on how you feel about boats that interest you. If there’s a boat you thought would interest you but turns you off, write down why.

You’re also going to meet dozens of boat brokers and pick up tons of business cards, literature, and swag. Particularly for the business cards, it’s a great idea to write down what you talked to the person about. You might want to bring a bag to put all this stuff in, though some boat shows in recent years have started giving out bags for swag when you arrive.

Have a plan đź”—

Boat shows are big and crowded. To make sure you see everything you want to see in the time you have, you should plan it out ahead of time.

First you need to figure out what kind of boats you’re going to be looking at. It’s great fun to look at the biggest and most expensive boats at the show, but you’ll also want to figure out which ones fit your needs and budget – odds are there isn’t much overlap between those two groups. Start by following the steps in our article on getting ready to buy a boat (most of the steps are equally applicable to new and used boats).

Once you know what you want to see at the show, find a show map online and plot an efficient course. This will be your guide once you’re at the show, but don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good: some boats will have lines, so be ready to change up the order as conditions dictate.

You don’t have to buy at the show 🔗

You don’t necessarily have to make a purchase at the show to lock in the special boat show pricing. If you’re a serious buyer, most sellers will be willing to give you the boat show price for a purchase made shortly after the show. Don’t be afraid to ask, but also don’t expect it.

Enjoy the show đź”—

Build enough time into your schedule to enjoy the show without frantically rushing from booth to booth. Boat shows have a lot more to offer than just boats, such as food, beer, and every kind of nautical-adjacent knickknack you can think of. You might even find yourself going back again the next day. I visit the Boston boat show almost every year, even when I’m not in the market for a boat or any major systems, just because it’s a fun experience.

Image via Peakpx.

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