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Providence show kicks off new year

The show, held at the R.I. Convention Center,

offers seminars and hundreds of boats on display

The show, held at the R.I. Convention Center,

offers seminars and hundreds of boats on display

George Hawkins hopes New Englanders will kick off the 2006 boating season in Rhode Island by going to the 13th annual Providence Boat Show, to be held at the Rhode Island Convention Center and the adjoining Dunkin’ Donuts Center Jan. 12 to 15.

Hawkins, the show’s producer/owner, expects 25,000 people from all over the region to attend.

“It’s a lot of fun to put on,” Hawkins says of the show. “Besides watching the boats file in, I enjoy the interaction with the public and the exhibitors. We all love boats and boating and it’s nice to see people get excited about it.”

Hawkins estimates that 400 boats will be on display, representing nearly 200 brands. Boats will range from “a seven-foot kayak to a 47-foot Beneteau or Hunter,” he says. “We’ll have virtually every type and style of boat you can imagine, both power and sail.”

More than 200 exhibitor booths will be set up between the Rhode Island Convention Center and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the latter featuring 90-foot-high ceilings for sailboats with full rigs. The exhibition space between the two venues totals more than 240,000 square feet.

A number of seminars are also on tap for the 2006 show with topics like navigation basics, GPS plotting and boat maintenance. New this year in the convention center will be a “Small Craft Sailing Center” for small sailboats and sailing accessories. “We want to help introduce and re-introduce people to small sailboats,” Hawkins says. “It’s important that people continue to pick up boating and buying a small boat is usually the first step.”

More than anything else, Hawkins says he can’t wait to begin the show and see all the people. “Every year I see boaters meeting here, who know each other from keeping their boats in the same marina, catching up on things and planning cruises for the next season. It’s great,” he says. “This show is really more than a boat show — it’s a boating event.”

The Providence Boat Show is sponsored by the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association. For information, call (508) 992-6658 or go to