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Beantown boat show attracts dreamers

Sportfishermen, sailboats and cruisers weredisplayed at the Boston convention center

Sportfishermen, sailboats and cruisers weredisplayed at the Boston convention center

Late last year the people who put on the New England Boat Show said they worried that there might not be a 2007 show. But, with a little help from the state legislature, the show went on. More than 60,000 people from all over the region came to see new boats and accessories on display Feb. 17 to 24 at the show’s new venue: the BostonConvention & ExhibitionCenter.

“The new venue inspired … several customers to comment that part of the show’s draw was our ability to properly display our products for the first time,” Massachusetts Marine Trades Association director and treasurer Doug Weilhouwser says in a statement. The association is the show’s principle sponsor.

“The BCEC’s 90-foot ceilings accommodated our vessels fully rigged and generated terrific responses from show visitors,” Weilhouwser says.

Late one afternoon, a father and his two young sons were looking at Grady White’s Express 330, fitted with twin 250-hp outboards. “Can’t you see us out fishing in a boat like this, every single weekend this summer?” the father asks. “These are some of the best boats in the world.”

A few aisles away, Dan Danysh, 45 and of Farmington, Conn., was inspecting Sea Ray’s 48 Sundancer. “These boats normally aren’t my type of design, but this one caught my eye,” says Danysh, who was looking for a boat “to explore the passes, islands and inlets throughout New England and Canada.

“It’s practically a townhouse that floats,” he says. “Great design in the staterooms, too. I love it.”

More than 350 marine exhibitors this year took up more than 12 acres of space at the BCEC — New England’s largest convention center — displaying nearly 1,000 powerboats and sailboats up to 50 feet. In addition to the boats and accessories, attendees were able to participate in a number of seminars. Topics included chart navigation, using GPS chart plotters and understanding your boat’s electrical system.

For more than two decades the New England Boat Show had been held at Boston’s BaysideExpoCenter, an older and smaller venue. Owners of the center did not renew the show’s contract for 2007 and show organizers scrambled to find a new venue for the 51st annual installment. Late last year former governor Mitt Romney signed legislation ending the ban on gate shows at the convention center, which cleared the path for events like the New England Boat Show to take place there.

Due to a conflict with the convention center’s schedule, the 2008 New England Boat Show will take place Jan. 12 to 20, organizers say.