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Optimism fills holes in Yacht and Brokerage Show in Miami Beach

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Walking around the 27th annual Yacht & Brokerage Show yesterday, a casual breezy feel filled the docks, ushered in by open spaces that dot the show. The empty slips speak volumes; just what they say, however, is uncertain.

On first glance, the holes could mean low inventory. Boats have been selling of late, thinning out the ranks of brokerage boats. But we have only to look in popular Ft. Lauderdale marinas to see that there are plenty of yachts still for sale.

Looking a little deeper, several brokers agreed that it is getting increasingly hard to get owners to show their yachts in boat shows.

“You’re going to see some holes in the show, mostly from big brokers because one, boats have been selling (thank God) and two, because it’s more difficult to convince owners to bring their boats to shows,” said Bob Saxon, president of IYC, which has 10 large yachts on display.

MIBS01-LCR empty slip white

Empty slips at this year’s Yacht & Brokerage Show could be due to cost, schedules, water depth or a variety of reasons. PHOTO by LUCY REED

There are myriad reasons for that, including cost compared to other sales options. But at the heart of it all is an idea that boat shows need to go back to their roots and offer guests an event that includes more than just boats.

“The boat show model needs to change,” Saxon said. “The show needs to become part of a scene, an event that people want to be a part of, with the boats as a backdrop.”

Just how that looks for the Yacht & Brokerage Show is unclear, but next year’s addition of the Island Gardens Marina at Watson Island offers several opportunities. The space is expected to allow for 40 boats up to 400 feet in length and 25 feet of draft, which is more than twice the size of vessel that can maneuver to Collins Avenue.

“There are certainly boats we would have in this show but we can’t get them in here, said Cromwell Littlejohn, a broker with Merle Woods & Associates, which has six large yachts on display. “There are boats in the Caribbean that would think nothing of motoring up here for three days to be in the show and still get back in time for their spring break charters.”

The Island Gardens Marina was expected to play a larger part in this year’s show but delays with construction have pushed those plans to next year. Even after 10 years of starts, stops and delays, the marina is still not a certainty. In mid-January, city officials in Miami Beach agreed to spend up to $200,000 to study the traffic impacts of the project on MacArthur Causeway and their city. They left open the possibility of legal options in their fight against the project.

Brokerage firms Moran Yacht & Ship and Y.Co have yachts on display there this year.

For the rest of the show on Collins Avenue, the roomier dockage gives boats and guests alike a chance to breath. They offer a welcome side view for some lucky yachts and, if the weather is any indication, they will whisk in fresh air when the docks get crowded.

“Bad weather is going to be driving people down,” Saxon predicted. “Look at this day. It’s going to be a good show.”

Lucy Chabot Reed is editor of Triton Today, lucy@the-triton.com.

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