VIDEO: Spring means showtime in Essex


Consider it the little boat show that could.

In the sleepy little town of Essex, Conn., where Soundings magazine has been home-ported for most of its 50 years, a handful of local boat dealers and brokers decided to start their own boat show to open another season on the water.

The fourth annual Spring Boat Show continues what they started April 26-28 on the west bank of the Connecticut River.

“Essex is a great venue for this spring show, and Soundings is proud to be the media sponsor,” Soundings editor-in-chief Bill Sisson says. “From trawlers and center consoles to sailboats and express cruisers, this little show will offer the public a good number of quality builders and models.”

The Spring Boat Show brings together Soundings, Brewer Dauntless Shipyard & Marina and six Essex-based dealers and brokers: Boatworks Yacht Sales, Wilde Yacht Sales, Eastland Yachts, Hank Aldrich Yacht Sales, Prestige Yacht Sales and Essex Marine Group.

More than 50 boats from 23 to 60 feet will be on display — sail and power, new and used. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Brewer Dauntless Marina at 9 Novelty Lane. Admission and parking are free.

Click play for a look at the Spring Boat Show.

“At a boutique show like this we can treat every boater like a VIP, and Essex is such a great destination,” Brewer Dauntless general manager Doug Domenie says.

“Essex, a historic maritime village on the Connecticut River, is home to a number of high-quality boat brokers and dealers, which means variety for consumers. That’s one advantage to a regional show,” says Ben Wilde, president of Wilde Yacht Sales, which will show four Nordic Tugs from 26 to 42 feet, a Ranger Tug and a Krogen 39.

“There are some people who don’t want to go to a big show. I think this is an event that provides personalized attention for the prospective buyer,” says Chris Keenan, of Essex Marine, which will be showing the Southport Boats line of center consoles.

Consumers also can tour brokerage boats at the Spring Boat Show — something you might not find at larger shows, says Dick Nolan, owner of Eastland Yachts, which plans to display several new and brokerage boats, including Nonsuch, Hallberg-Rassy and Beneteau models.

“A lot of boat shows don’t allow — or limit — the number of used boats, but many boaters these days are looking for a used vessel,” Nolan says.

Even with all of the listings that are posted online, there’s still something special about coming out to a show, says Hank Aldrich, of Hank Aldrich Yacht Sales, which will have a variety of vessels at the nearby Brewer Dauntless Shipyard.

“You can do all of your research online, but ultimately you have to come out and look at the boat,” Aldrich says. “Here you’ll have a variety of high-quality vessels in one spot.”

The smaller setting allows dealers to give more individual attention to show-goers, says Tom Pilkington, of Prestige Yacht Sales, which will be showing boats from the Hunt Yachts and Beneteau sailboat lines.

“There are times at the bigger boat shows we have to hire people just to manage traffic, walking visitors through the boat. Here we will have the time to spend with the consumer,” he says. “And who wouldn’t like to go to Essex for the day?”

The setting also appeals to boaters who want to expand their knowledge base, Boatworks Yacht Sales president Clute Ely says.

“This show is for people who want to learn in a casual, fun environment with a number of experts in their fields and a broad array of high-quality products,” Ely says. Boatworks will show several models from Grand Banks and Cabo.

For information, email, or contact Doug Domenie at or (860) 767-0001.