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It’s Boat Show Season!

There are few sights more mournful than a yard full of boats on jack stands. Luckily, there's no better way to let the healing begin than by attending a fall boat show. Editor's Letter from our October 2012 issue.

October 1, 2012
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Yachting at the Newport Boat Show

Daniel Harding, Jr.

If you’re the pensive sort, fall can be a slightly melancholy time. No matter how old you are, there are the primordial echoes of the end of summer vacation, back-to-school blues. The leaves start to turn. The days and months ahead march toward colder, darker and shorter. Worst of all, for me, is seeing the harbors of the Northeast empty out. There are few sights more mournful than a yard full of boats on jack stands.

In Northern climes the exodus starts right after Labor Day when the goody-two-shoes realists among us concede that it’s all over and time to get back to business. (Don’t those Type A personalities realize they make the rest of us look bad?) The value-conscious suck the marrow from September, a spectacular month for cruising. And the truly dedicated take full advantage of October’s gorgeous weekends when the leaves are in full color and a crisp chill frosts the docks. By the month’s end, however, only a few folks are still bobbing at the mooring or hanging around the marina. These are the procrastinators and the die-hards. Like the water-skiing novice who can’t get up but refuses to let go of the tow line, they persist in hanging on long after it’s realistic, comfortable or fun.

As one of these types, I have looked for ways to transition more gracefully from this sad state of denial to healthy (if reluctant) acceptance. In my experience, planning (or in some cases, daydreaming) can create a smoother segue between despair and — and, well — optimism. And there’s no better way to let the healing begin than by attending a fall boat show.

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This month’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (Oct. 25-29, 2012) is the big daddy of them all. With 3 million square feet of show area spread over six locations and home to $3 billion worth of boats ranging in size from 20 to 300 feet, FLIBS is the world’s largest in-water boat show.

No boat? Get one! Rates are at all-time lows, lenders are more active than they have been in recent years, and you can explore builders’ deals on everything from RIBs to superyachts. Start modestly, if you must, and work your way up.

Making their debut at FLIBS will be the Horizon E56, the Ocean Alexander 120, the Beneteau Swift Trawler 50 and the Hargrave 76, 114 and 125. English company Sealine has three new models at the show — its T50 Flybridge Motor Yacht, C48 Coupe (see “On Board,” page 30 of our October 2012 issue) and SC42i Sports Coupe. Fellow countrymen and boatbuilders from Fairline will debut the new 62 Targa Gran Turismo. Grand Banks will have its 54EU there and the 43EU — a revamped edition of its 41EU, with Zeus drives, two heads and an extended cockpit. Sound tempting? This list is by no means all-inclusive, so hit the docks!

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Already have a boat you love? Make her even better! You’ll see everything from nautical decor vendors to dealers and manufacturers peddling watermakers, generators, new engines and the latest in marine electronics. (Whose helm couldn’t use an update?)

Go with an open mind and you might be surprised what you leave with. … Maybe it’s time you went larger (or smaller), from sail to power (or power to sail), gas to diesel, single engine to twin, or fiberglass to steel. FLIBS always features a slew of model debuts, many of them from Europe, and if you don’t think there will be innovations galore, then you underestimate an industry that’s eager to regain its momentum after the past few years of economic hardship.

If you can’t buy right now, don’t let that stop you from going. Warm sunshine and acres of floating fantasties might plant the seed of a dream that will flower as reality down the road. As Henry David Thoreau said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” And if nothing else, educating yourself on the endless possibilties is a great way to stay nautically happy until spring.

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Mary South
[email protected]

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