I always get excited about a good boat show, and I’m especially excited about what’s shaping up to be best event of this type ever in our area: The Wilmington Boat Show, coming Sept. 9 through 11. For the first time, this will take advantage of new amenities along the Cape Fear River to display boats both in and out of the water.
This show is sponsored by ILM – the Wilmington airport – and MarineMax will be one of the biggest exhibitors.
Like all good shows, this one will include a large indoor area for booths and dry displays, in the Wilmington Convention Center’s spacious exhibit hall. But also, just a few steps away, it will give visitors a chance to come aboard numerous boats, big and small, in the water. This will be at the Port City Marina and its Pier 33. This is the big new boating center at the foot of Hanover, Brunswick and Harnett streets, between the Convention Center and the PPD tower.
A third center for the show, and a place to park free if you’d rather not use the Convention Center’s parking deck, is the Battleship North Carolina’s waterfront park across the river. In addition to plenty of parking space, the battleship site will include land boat displays and features for kids, plus food and drinks. A free water taxi, run by Wilmington Water Tours, will shuttle visitors across the Cape Fear River between the battleship park and Pier 33. From there, it’s a short stroll along the marina – and past the in-water boat exhibits -- to the Convention Center.
MarineMax will have one of the heaviest presences in the show. We plan to have 20 boats in the water at the marina, ranging from 15 feet to 55 feet. Featured brands will be Sea Ray, Boston Whaler, Azimut and Sea Pro. Look for us at slips D-15 through D-26.
Something I think will be especially fun and off useful information for consumers is our head-to-head outboard challenge. We’ll be putting evenly matched Yamaha and Mercury motors on two identical boats. We’ll put them through their paces, right there on the river, and let visitors decide whether they like the Mercury or the Yamaha better.
The show is more than just exhibits. A series of entertaining and informative seminars will go on through the weekend. These include an introduction to fishing for children; a presentation on using satellite fish-finding services; and sessions with bass-fishing pro Mike DelVisco.
Cape Fear Community College will offer free tours of its ocean research vessel, the “Cape Hatteras,” and of its boat-building shop. This is a fascinating up-close look at how both traditional wooden boats and modern fiberglass craft are built. Both the college docks and the boat-building shop are on the river, a pleasant two-block stroll down the Riverwalk south of the Convention Center.
The show opens at noon on Friday, Sept. 9 and runs through 6 p.m. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. This is a fun and economical outing for families, with tickets for adults just $10 and children 15 and younger getting in free. A $5 discounted rate is offered to seniors 65 and older, and to active military personnel. If one day isn’t enough – and it might not be, with as much as there is to see – a two-day pass is $15.
As I mentioned, parking is free at the battleship. If you’d rather park on the city side of the river, the Convention Center’s deck offers covered parking for an hourly rate. And Cape Fear Community College is opening its two decks to the public, with a $5 flat rate for all day, each just a block from the Convention Center.
I had more to say about boat shows, and how to get the most benefit from your time at a show, in an article from February 2016.
A few key points are worth repeating. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes with non-slip soles that are good for walking on a wide range of surfaces. The shoes should be easy to slip on and off, because you’re likely to be asked to remove your shoes before stepping aboard some display models. A notebook and a cell phone with a camera are also very useful to help you remember what you see and hear.
The show’s organizers, JBM Associates, offer a downloadable mobile-phone app to help you get the most benefit from your time there.
There is more information about the show at its website.
Whether you’re an experienced boater looking for something new, or a novice just testing the waters, this show will be a great introduction to the boating life. I hope I’ll see you there!
Thom Cross is the general manager of MarineMaxWrightsville Beach. Headquartered in Clearwater, Florida, MarineMax is the nation’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer. Focused on premium brands, MarineMax sells new and used recreational boats and related marine products and services as well as provides yacht brokerage and charter services. For more information, visit www.marinemax.com, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarineMaxWrightsvilleBeach or call (910) 256-8100.
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