The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Boating’s grandest event, Fort Lauderdale’s Super Bowl. A time for people to come together around a shared love of reasonably sized boats, somewhat larger boats, actually quite large boats, and boats that are so large that you can purchase one of the reasonably sized boats to keep somewhere on them. And maybe some kayaks, what the heck, everybody loves those.
But for some of us, Boat Show Season is a stressful time. If, like me, you suffer from not really knowing about boats, this can be a time of year when you feel even more embarrassed than usual. But with a few simple tips and strategies, you can navigate (boat word!) the Boat Show like a pro.
Pick one knowledgeable-sounding thing and stick with it. This year, I’m talking about Beam. As far as I can tell, “beam” just means “width,” but in that same way that boat people always insist on calling the toilet the “head” and “the normal-sized boat that goes on the these-investments-did-well boat” the “tender” because it sounds cooler if you speak your little boat language. Anyway, what Beam is, isn’t the important part here. What’s important is that I can walk around Bahia Mar squinting at yachts, saying things like, “Man, that’s some impressive Beam right there” or “Dang, check out the Beam on that one” or “Hey, could you go get me another Funky Buddha while I make note of all the Beam happening here?” Then I’m going to nod sagely and the boat guys are going to think: There’s a man who respects Beam.
Pick one cool-sounding boat and stick with it. This can be literally any boat, as long as it’s got a memorable name so you won’t forget it. The method I use is that I find the boat that sounds most like a Bond villain. This year, I’m mentioning to everybody I talk to how impressed I am by the Vripack Doggersbank, solely because I’ll remember it as it sounds like a tycoon with a secret missile island who tried to have Roger Moore-era Bond killed by knife-wielding porpoises.
Learn the name of at least one boating industry professional that you didn’t get from Below Deck. If the only boating person you can name is Captain Lee, that’s a giveaway.
Lie via the medium of Buffett. Don’t have a big boating background? No problem. Just listen to a few old Jimmy Buffett songs, take some plot points and descriptions, and make them your own. You’re not only a sailor, you’re the son of a son of one. If you’re not setting it to a jaunty kinda-country-sorta-reggae beat, nobody will notice. Note: If you’re talking to someone who works for an organization like the DEA, be careful about which Buffett songs you use.
Find Italians. Every boat show inevitably has some Italians standing around looking cooler than everybody else in the room. Go hang out by them and nobody else will really notice you because they’re all trying to talk to them. Occasionally nod and say something about the Vripack Doggersbank.
And there you are. With just a few simple tricks, you’ll be a Boat Show insider in no time. If you need any more help, find me at the Boat Show bar. I’ll be the one lining up shots of Beam.