Whether you love traditional wooden boats, modern super yachts, speedy powerboats, performance sportfishers, or cruising sail craft, there’s a boat show calendar for you in the Southeast this month.
That diversity starts the first weekend of the month with the venerable U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Md., showing off the latest in blow boats. The 43rd annual event is expected to draw more than 50,000 boating enthusiasts from around the world to the historic waterfront.
Meanwhile, a more modest show transpires in the North Carolina State Port Authority facilities on the Morehead City waterfront. The ninth annual Southern Outer Banks Boat Show provides free admission to an array of yachts, sailboats, fishing boats, motorboats and kayaks with the region’s dealers providing bargain prices. The show runs in conjunction with the sprawling North Carolina Seafood Festival, so there are plenty of other activities to enjoy when you’ve seen enough boats.
The action continues the following weekend in Annapolis as the U.S. Powerboat Show takes over the waterfront. But Gulf Coast boaters need not travel that far to get their fill of boating fun, as the inaugural Texas Coast Boat and Outdoor Show takes place in the newly refurbished Galveston Yacht Basin.
The Texas show is being billed as a festival with several events planned in addition to the display of more than 100 power and sail boats in the water, plus a huge onshore exhibition of boats, RVs and water sports gear. One major attraction is the Tri-Hull Powerboat Championship, an American Power Boat Association sanctioned event, taking place over the weekend. On display will be the racing boats Miss GEICO and Caveman with a chance to meet GEICO’s racing team with throttleman Scotty Begovitch.
Other events include a Mardi Gras style boat parade, a poker run, live bands, kids activities and a fundraiser for the 1877 tall ship Elissa.
Boaters in the Carolinas also have a chance to get in on the boating displays at the free Mum Fest Boat Show event in New Bern, N.C. For the 10th year, the annual celebration of flora will include a nautical component along the shores of the Neuse River. In addition to boats and boating displays, this year’s show has added an Outdoor Life component featuring activities such as stand up paddle boarding, biking, fishing, camping, hiking, canoeing and kayaking, hunting, water sports and more.
A different breed of boating fan will be flocking to Georgetown, S.C., site of the 23rd annual Wooden Boat Show presented by the Harbor Historical Association of Georgetown on Oct. 20, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. The free show features exhibits of more than 100 wooden boats, children’s model boatbuilding, gig rows with the new Charleston Mosquito Fleet, knot tying competition, maritime arts and crafts, food, music and more.
Events take place on the waterfront and along Front Street in the historic downtown with a dozen categories of vessels ranging from kayaks to century class yachts. Visitors can meet and talk to wooden boat craftsmen, manufacturers and owners. A highlight of the show is the Wooden Boat Challenge beginning at noon under the big tent on Broad Street. Two-man teams race to build a rowing skiff within a four hour time limit. At 5 p.m., the competitors test their skiffs for seaworthiness in a rowing relay across the Sampit River. The teams are judged on speed of construction, quality of work and rowing ability with the winners going on to national competition.
Local artist Keels Culberson Swinnie will sign show posters featuring an original painting illustrating her childhood experience of building a wooden boat with her father, Henry Culberson – a well known local woodworker and former Georgetown Wooden Boat Challenge competitor.
Posters, commemorative T-shirts and hats will be available at the Ship’s Store on Front Street. Money raised through sales and donations will go toward the operation and development of the local S.C. Maritime Museum.
The day concludes with an awards ceremony and banquet to recognize exhibtors, competitors, sponsors and guests.
Wooden boat enthusiasts will head north to the inaugural Roanoke Island Maritime Museum Wooden Boat Show in Manteo, N.C.
The show is open to all wooden boats whether new construction or restored. The boats will be displayed in the Creef Boathouse and Creef Park, and in the water along the adjoining Roanoke Marshes lighthouse piers.
In addition to the display of entrants, the event will include rides in the museum’s shad boat and an awards dinner at 6 p.m., Oct. 27.
Exhibiting boats will be judged in owner built/restored and professional built/restored categories. Awards will include a People’s Choice Award and the H.A. Creef Award, a perpetual award for the best overall boat.
Rounding out the month in a big way will be the 53rd annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. The city, known as the “Venice of America,” welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors to view what as billed as the world’s largest in-water boat show featuring more than $3 billion worth of boats and marine products. As one might expect based upon the vessels docked along the surrounding waterways, the show is known for its astounding number of luxurious super yachts, which attract an elite international clientele.
But the show offers something for everyone who loves the water, and even those not in the market to buy a boat can find an array of fun-filled activities such as live music on floating cocktail barges; an international food garden; complimentary marine seminars about topics from lobstering to first aid at sea; and youth fishing clinics. The show sprawls from the Convention Center to five marinas, encompassing 3 million square feet of space on land and water. A free riverboat connects the sites.