Another year, another boat show. It’s difficult to believe that it has been more than 10 years since I went to the Newport International Boat Show. And wow, it was even bigger this year than I remembered! So much cool stuff on display: newfangled things, old things made “new” and some old stuff that must still be useful.
When I worked in retail — and in charters — the Newport International Boat Show was our Christmas week, as far as sales were concerned. Businesses in Newport, Rhode Island, made a big chunk of money that week, and it seemed as if everyone you knew from any port in the world showed up.
Back in the day, Don “Squeaky” Street, famous sailor and author, filled rooms at the Treadway Inn or the Seamen’s Church Institute with his latest wizardry of charts and descriptions of the best anchorages as he took swipes at Chris Doyle and other cruising guide authors. Everyone who ever had an anchoring adventure wanted to swap tales with Don, which often led to someone buying him a greenie (a Heineken) across the street at Zelda’s.
This year’s show had good weather, but there have been years when hurricanes spoiled the fun. Gloria in 1985 and Floyd in 1999 come to mind. We’ve also had several near misses. I’ve helped set up and man booths in the tents when some years it flooded, and others when it was boiling hot. I tied up and scrubbed up boats for viewing, and also rushed some back out before a storm approached. This year I felt for the folks who had multiple boats to watch.
Fond memories include lunches at Smokehouse, drinks at Zelda’s and the International Yacht and Athletic Club and after-show parties until all hours. Despite the celebrations with libations, everyone was back behind their Ray-Bans and in their company shirts the next morning with no problem. Some things never change. Oh, the stories those boat show name tags could tell!