Spring beckons with Boatbuilders Show

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People travel far and wide to attend the Maine Boatbuilders Show, held at the end of each winter in Portland, Maine. One special guest of the 2005 edition is traveling around the world to get there.

American Vendee Globe sailor Bruce Schwab is scheduled to appear at this year’s show. It will be his first U.S. appearance after completing the single-handed 27,000-mile race around the world. Schwab and his crew prepared his boat, Ocean Planet, at Portland Yacht Services, host of the March 18 to 20 show at the Portland Boat Works complex.

About 12,000 people are expected to attend the waterfront event, according to show presenter Joanna Sprague of Portland Yacht Services.

More than 180 exhibitors are expected, ranging from boatbuilders such as Hinckley, Sabre and Ellis Bros., to small shops and one-man operations, along with myriad marine-related businesses such as accessory makers, marinas and marine publications.

About 100 boats are slated to appear. They range from 6-foot dories to 50-foot yachts, Sprague says, and run the gamut of building materials and techniques, from plank-on-frame wooden daysailers to vacuum-bagged fiberglass luxury yachts. The boats are from the upper end of the market, regardless of size or type, according to organizers.

The show draws seriously qualified buyers, Sprague says.

“Not only do they know what they’re talking about, they know what they want,” she says. “And they have a niche here where they can actually meet the builders.”

Buyers aren’t the only ones asking the tough questions, though, as the show has become an excellent forum for builders, suppliers and other marine professionals to network, Sprague says.

In addition, lectures are scheduled on a variety of topics.

The show itself has a Down East character, held at the boat works in large mid-1800s brick buildings that once housed a locomotive builder.

Hours for the Boatbuilders Show are Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The price is $15 per person. Two- and three-day passes are also available for $25 and $35, respectively. More information is available at www.portland company.com.

The 34th Annual Maine Boat Show will take place concurrently in the Cumberland County Civic Center, in Portland. Admission is $7 Friday to Saturday, with “Very Important Boater Day” on Thursday for $8. Show hours are Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www. americasbestshows.com.