Digital devices help you get the most out of your compressed time at the show.
At a boat show, it's easy to let all the yachts you see run together in your mind, their many attributes joining to form your ideal yacht, a frustrating concept when it goes unfound. One solution is to use a Flip video camera (shown, $230; www.theflip.com) to record your own walk-through videos. This tiny device holds up to one hour of video, complete with sound, so you can do your own narration of likes and dislikes and review the footage later on your laptop. Uploading is simple, thanks to the USB connector that "flips" out of the camera, eliminating wires to bring, tangle, or-worst of all-lose.
Digital cameras and camera-enabled cellphones also allow you record the attributes of the yachts you see. Just be sure to keep the images filed in such a way that you can identify them later.
The mapping applications for GPS-enabled smartphones, such as the iPhone, BlackBerry, and others, help you find your way back to that boat deemed worthy of a second look. Just make sure to drop a pin-like a waypoint-when you're there, and you'll turn the docks, widely considered a maze of poor signage, into an easy-to-follow itinerary of yachts you'd like to revisit.
Other available useful apps include restaurant search devices, such as UrbanSpoon, checkbook-balance apps, and others, but we suggest you get familiar with these before you try to use them to your advantage in Miami. The most useful widgets: Those that tell you the weather forecast, so you'll know if you need a hat or a jacket for the day. Now that's good advice.
Intrepid Boats 245 is a small boat that's built like her big sisters- quality construction and fine fit and finish. Twin-outboard power and forward seating make it a versatile addition to any fleet. Intrepid Boats, (954) 922-7544; www.intrepidboats.com
The Race Is On
There are deals to be had, but you can't tell the players without a program.
Depending on the size of the boat you're looking for, you may need to visit the Miami Beach Convention Center, Sea Isle Marina and Yachting Center, or the brokerage docks along Collins Avenue, where the larger, in-water yachts are shown.
Once you get on site, lay your hands on a show program. "When they come to the boat show itself, it's almost like going to the racetrack," says Mike Joyce, CEO of Hargrave Yachts. "The program for the show is almost like a track program. You can open it up and you can look and see they've got it sorted by builder, they've got it sorted by length they've got it sorted by other criteria, so you can almost handicap the boats that are at the show."
But not even the Kentucky Derby has this many horses in the race. Where to begin? "Our advice to people is to take time to think," says Joyce. "Are you in the market for a boat now? That makes a difference. Do you have any actual requirements? That makes a difference. Are you looking for a certain speed, a certain draft, a certain price range? Whatever that may be, you come to a boat show and you're overwhelmed: Oh my God, look at all these boats, I don't know what to do. The fact is, if you have two or even three requirements, all of a sudden the list of 500 boats comes down to the fact that there may be only two boats in the whole show that fit your requirements."