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Boating: Thank goodness for boat shows!

November 9, 2011
By boatguy Ed , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

If you wonder why there is so much excitement about boat shows, think back to when the circus came to town. The elephants paraded down Main Street, the clowns and the beautiful girls in beautiful costumes, fresh-roasted peanuts and the roar of the caged lions. Feel that excitement in your veins. It's the same way I feel about boat shows.

'New York Mort' is our newest yacht club member; see last week's column for background info. He's desperate for a new boat to get on our beautiful Southwest Florida waters. None of his new "Dead End Canal Yacht Club" fellow members' boats meet all of his requirements to be his 'perfect Florida boat.' So he went boat shopping with us in tow.

Mort is a strange New Yorker or is Mort strange because he's a New Yorker? The verdict is out on that question, but he is a nice guy and will be an asset to the club once he settles the boat question. The weather didn't cooperate -one day hot and muggy and then breezy and cool over the next few days. Mort still wants a boat like he had up North, but smaller.

In response to several inquiries by fellow members, he explained his future, "I'm a Floridian now. I sold out up in New York, and I have committed to the Florida lifestyle." Mort thinks he knows what he wants, but really doesn't, and that point was driven home as we cruised around the boat dealers parking lots. When a salesman approached, he insisted we leave.

"You've got to talk to them," said Boston Bob. "They won't bite you and they have the answers to your questions."

"Not until I've made up my mind," said Mort. "I'll just get confused and buy the wrong boat."

It's been a very frustrating week. Just when we thought we had settled on a type of boat, Mort disappeared and, when he surfaced again, his decision had completely changed.

"I think I'm going to buy a deck boat," he said nonchalantly. Good, we all said, now let's start shopping for a good deck boat. East, North or South, which direction, we asked? "I know you guys wanted me to wait until this week's boat show, but I was hot to get the deal moving. I sure wish that Bonita Springs dealer was open on Sunday."

"Bonita Boat Center is open on weekends now that the snowbirds are back," I said. I knew it for a fact because I had just talked to one of the owners, Tom, who informed me of the change.

"I shouldn't have gone with my Ohio buddy. He was wrong, but now I'm ready for my Florida boat. I'll need help because I have no sales resistance. Help me see it all, every boat all lined up at the boat show! When do we go?"

"I'll be there pretty much every day but I'll be working the 'DECYC" booth with my wife so I can help you some," I said. There was a rush of volunteers from the membership and we started planning our trip from the Beach to the convention center downtown Fort Myers.

I may be prejudiced because I think the Fort Myers Fall In-The-Water Boat Show is the best show in Florida. Why, it certainly isn't the biggest or has the most attendance but it is the perfect size and has the perfect amount of people roaming the docks. One more thing, the exhibitors aren't snooty. Most don't make you fill out a financial statement to board their yacht.

The yacht club won't have to rent a bus or buy a keg for the bus but we will straggle in on our own and go around with Mort to find his boat. I am not going to buy a new boat but there is still a feeling of excitement in participating in the purchase. The hardest part of being this involved blocking our own prejudices.

Once again we will take guidance from our Commodore who has Fort Myers Boat showing down to a science. "Getting there early is essential because you need to divide the day into several segments," Commodore Jim always says, "Try to get there a few minutes before 10 and be in line with the rest of the crowd."

The show is from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. so there should be enough time to see most of the show if you aren't too particular. "I like to stroll the convention center first, there is always something new, and once I'm through there I head to the outside booths. Along the way I buy a shammy, it's a tradition and some cleaning supplies plus a bag of spicy beef jerky," continued the Commodore.

Next is a great lunch at one of the downtown restaurants. We all like the Veranda or the City Tavern just outside the main gate or The French Connection. After lunch, the Commodore leads a foray onto the floating docks where there are 25 footers up to really big yachts.

'New York Mort will find his boat there and the looking will be over and the boating will begin. That is if he doesn't change his mind. Doesn't matter because the boat show is four days -Thursday, Nov. 10 through Sunday, Nov. 13, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. every day except Sunday when it closes at 5 p.m. See you there!

Boatguy Ed is a retired paint manufacturer working toward a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize. If you think he deserves just the nomination, not the whole prize, oh my gosh, no! Send your yes vote to Or go to Wouldn't it be nice if you personally knew someone nominated for a Pulitzer?



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