New England Boat Show draws 70,000 - Soundings Online

New England Boat Show draws 70,000

Author:
Publish date:

Organizers of the 50-year-old Boston show are exploring a change of venue for next year

Organizers of the 50-year-old Boston show are exploring a change of venue for next year

The people who put on this year’s 50th annual New England Boat Show — held Feb. 18 to 26 at Boston’s Bayside Expo Center — say between 65,000 and 70,000 people from across the region turned out to see the new boats and accessories on display.

“The show was great. Attendance was up between 15 and 16 percent,” says Joe O’Neal, who has organized the boat show since 1983. “I mean, this is the largest [boat] show in New England. People come from all over for this.”

One of those people was Hal King of Pocasset, Mass. King sold his Pearson 303 not long ago, and was at the show looking at center consoles between 15 and 19 feet. “In the past few years the sailboat just hung on the mooring too much,” he says. “I bought it to cruise and I did all the cruising I think I could do. Now I’m looking for something like a nice open center console to run around Buzzards Bay in, do a little gunkholing in, without killing myself.”

Among the brands of boats King was considering were Boston Whaler and Pro-Line. Features he was looking for included self-bailing, a “decent amount” of storage, and room enough to carry up to six passengers comfor-tably. “I’m here to get an idea about how much these boats cost, of how much I can get for my dollar,” King says. “From coming to the show I think I’ve gotten a good sense of that.”

Gary Sharpe, of Cohasset, Mass., hadn’t attended the New England Boat Show since 1969 — until this year. He was astounded, he said, by the number of boats and accessories on display. “There’s definitely a lot here to look at,” Sharpe says. “There doesn’t seem to be much here for sailors, though. But, overall, I’d say it’s an impressive show that reflects what the average buyer is looking for.”

With 600 new boats — from dinghies to a 45-foot Jeanneau — and 330 exhibitors on hand, attendees had quite a selection of products to peruse. “It’s always nice to come here and look at everything,” said Gene Mulligan, of Milton, Mass. Mulligan owns a 32-foot Carlson, called Laura II. “I come to this show every year to see if I need an accessory. From 12-volt refrigerators to 4-stroke outboards, it’s here.”

O’Neal says he’s happy that everyone seems to have enjoyed the show. He’s looking forward to possibly switching venues next year to the Boston Convention and ExpoCenter, the largest convention center in New England. “We’ll see how it all works out,” O’Neal says. “It’s the facility that the boat show desperately needs. With 60- to 90-foot ceilings and more space, we can have more and bigger boats next year. I’m mildly optimistic about the move and am always looking forward to next year’s show.”

O’Neal says he’s happy that everyone seems to have enjoyed the show. He’s looking forward to possibly switching venues next year to the Boston Convention and ExpoCenter, the largest convention center in New England. “We’ll see how it all works out,” O’Neal says. “It’s the facility that the boat show desperately needs. With 60- to 90-foot ceilings and more space, we can have more and bigger boats next year. I’m mildly optimistic about the move and am always looking forward to next year’s show.”