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Buyers and browsers to converge on Lauderdale

Despite a soft market, dealers are confident the lure of the boating lifestyle will draw shoppers to the show

Despite a soft market, dealers are confident the lure of the boating lifestyle will draw shoppers to the show

A soft market is a buyer’s market. That should bode well for shoppers at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Oct. 25 to 29.

“There is always competitive pricing at the show,” said Barry Claire, sales manager at Joel’s Outboard Marine, a dealer in Hewes, Pathfinder, Ranger and Stingray boats. With the show still a few months off, Claire said he didn’t see how the pricing could get much more competitive.

He said Joel’s, of Fort Lauderdale, a dealership for two decades, has found that customers use the Lauderdale show — touted as the world’s largest — to shop and compare. “Aside from deals, people get the opportunity to see boats side by side,” he said. He sees prospective buyers taking notes, gathering information, doing their homework. Some buy right away but others go home, compare notes, deliberate and a week or two or three or even months later place their orders. The show “plants seeds for the whole year,” he said.

This year’s show, the 48th, will feature an estimated $2 billion worth of boats, as well as marine accessories, products, services and electronics. Boats range in size from 10 to more than 200 feet, and include canoes and inflatables, runabouts, sportfishermen, go-fasts, center consoles, express and cabin cruisers, trawlers and superyachts.

As usual, the 3 million square feet of exhibit space will be spread over six locations: Bahia Mar Yachting Center, where the superyachts, the Yacht Builders and Designers Tent, the International Yacht Builders Pavilion, engine tent, accessories tents, and boats on land and water are located; the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, with its displays of fishing boats, family cruisers, runabouts, flats boats, center consoles, jet boats, engines, fishing equipment, a floor of jewelry, nautical clothes and shoes, marine artwork and décor, and the Sailfish Pavilion of outdoor boat exhibits; the Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel & Yacht Club and Hyatt Pier 66 Hotel & Marina, where a 209-foot Royal Denship will be along with many brokerage yachts; the Hall of Fame Marina, also exhibiting brokerage yachts at the docks and exotic cars landside, and Las Olas Marina, avenue for the catamarans and brokerage yachts.

Special events include adult and children’s fishing seminars at the convention center. The children’s clinics will be Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Children 4 to 16 years old will learn to cast a rod and reel, throw a cast net, select tackle and lures, tie knots and fishing ethics. Registration for the clinics begins each day at 10 a.m.

Adult fishing clinics will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday. “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing” will host clinics for women at noon and 3 p.m. Friday.

Show hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. Prime Time Preview, when the crowds are thinnest, is Thursday. A Prime Time ticket is $30. General admission other days is $16 for adults, $5 for children 6 to 12 and free for children under 6. Tickets are available at the gate or online at Shuttle buses between venues are free, as are riverboats between the Las Olas riverfront and the Bahia Mar. Water shuttle service between Bahia Mar, the convention center, the Grande Hotel and Pier 66 costs $10 for an all-day pass.