New England Boat Show Week

Entrance to the Boston Boat Show

Welcome to the New England Boat Show. Photo: Nautical Sites Media

This Saturday is the first day of the annual week-long New England Boat Show at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on Summer Street in Boston. Actually, like all boat shows being managed by the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association (NMMA), the Boston boat show’s name is longer than usual this year. They tacked the phrase “Progressive Insurance” in front, as the Ohio-based insurance giant is sponsoring all the NMMA shows for 2012.

But not just the name is bigger… The Progressive Insurance New England Boat Show will actually be bigger in size this year, too. A press release we received from the show earlier today stated that the 2012 edition of the show will be 40% larger than last year, with more exhibit space, more (and larger) boats. By all accounts, including my own first-hand view as an exhibitor (picture to prove it), the show was already showing signs of life last year after a couple of rough years in a row; so it will be interesting to see how much bigger and better the Boston show actually is this year. If the weather holds up the way it has in New England all winter, that won’t be a deterrent to the crowds, but competition from other shows may distract potential attendees…

Friendly Competition
The first weekend of the show may have a tough time drawing folks from the Cape, as boating enthusiasts across the canal have a boat show of their own right in Hyannis (see: Boatbuilders’ Show on Cape Cod).  The second weekend overlaps with the Miami Boat Show (official show site), which draws a big crowd of boat owners from the northeast who fly down each year for what is one of the biggest shows in the world with more than 3,000 boats on display across 3 locations.

The Miami show is likely to pull a couple of exhibitors away from Boston as well, especially the smaller ones that try to reach a national market but don’t have resources to do both shows at once. One example we noticed is Hat Trick, the embroidery folks from Sandwich who specialize in personalized hats. They did the New England show last year, but are skipping Boston for Miami this year.

What To See
Enough about why people might NOT go, and on to why you SHOULD go to the New England Boat Show this year. First of all, if you want to go to a big boat show without getting on a plane, this is the biggest game in town all year. The event will be rich with local vendors from New England and beyond, and will include displays from the biggest boat dealers from the region – filling 300,000 square feet of exhibit space with the newest models of their power and sailing vessels. Here are some pictures I took last year of the show: New England Boat Show 2011 Pics

One popular feature from last year that has returned is a section within the show called SailFest, featuring sailboats from 8’ to 42’ from more than twenty manufacturers and more than 100 booths of sailing related products and services.

If you attend the show on its second weekend, you’ll have the chance to meet Abby Sunderland, the California teen who nearly became the youngest solo sailor ever to circumnavigate the globe before a huge rogue wave cut her trip short in 2010. Her book Unsinkable – a stirring tale of a young girl overcoming adversity in pursuit of her goals – discusses her journey in detail.

When To Go
If the trend holds up from previous years, the opening Saturday will be the busiest day at the show. To avoid the crowds, try to check out the show on a weekday – it’s open from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Monday through Friday. (full show hours)

As for me, I’ll be there on Monday and possibly a 2nd day later in the week. Are you exhibiting? Drop me an email (editor@ this site’s web address) if you’d like to meet up to discuss featuring your products or services locally on the brand-spanking new, or nationally on the Daily Boater.

See you at the show!