Statewide boat show docks at East Ferry this weekend
The show, originally held exclusively at Bristol Marine, is in its third year and has expanded to five communities. Along with Bristol, the show will be hosted at Jamestown’s Conanicut Marine, Warwick’s Brewer Greenwich Bay Marina, Middletown’s West Marine and Wakefield’s Silver Spring Marine.
According to organizers, each venue offers an opportunity to see boats on land and in the water, meet industry experts, learn about gear and equipment, and experience the state’s boating lifestyle. Of the 44,000 registered boat owners in Rhode Island, about half live out of state.
According to Wendy Mackie of the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, when the Newport Exhibition Group decided to stop holding a spring boat show, there was a gap that needed to be filled. In response, boat brokers who wanted to showcase their boats before the sailing season got together and established the show. Mackie and the trades association are endorsing the event.
“They really had a vision for it,” said Mackie. “The idea is a lowcost opportunity to cater to the buyers in the locations where they might keep their boats.”
Mackie said one of the major attractions is to promote the Ocean State’s friendly tax laws related to boat ownership. Anyone who buys a boat in Rhode Island and keeps it in state is not subject to sales or property tax. Boat owners are exempt from any excises that come with servicing their boat as long as it’s bought and kept in Rhode Island.
“The idea is to cover the whole state so that people can really understand what Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island has to offer to boaters,” Mackie said. “We really are the go-to place for recreational boating.”
Mackie said organizers hope to expand the show to other communities in the future. The ultimate goal is to encourage boat brokers statewide to hold an open house that corresponds to the dates of the Rhode Island Boat Show. The combination of open houses and boat-show hubs would hopefully result in the marine industry throughout the state taking part on a given weekend, she said.
“It couldn’t happen this year logistically, but we eventually see it being Rhode Island’s outdoor boat show,” Mackie said. “We like the idea of an open house statewide. We’ll get there.”
Ryan Miller of Latitude Yacht Brokerage in Jamestown is the organizer of the local effort. It was Miller, along with Matt Leduc of Fleet Yacht Sales, who had the idea three years ago. It was at a time when the country was trying to dig its way out of an economic recession.
“The event was simply a way to say we are open for business,” said Miller. “Now that the economy has corrected itself, we have the opportunity to really showcase what Rhode Island has to offer recreational boaters.”
Miller said the focus of the show was to make it easy on exhibitors and consumers. The costs of moving a boat to a convention center and staging it costs thousands of dollars. People who attend those shows have to pay an admission so that organizers can recoup their investment.
“With this show the inventory is right here,” Miller said. “We can showcase it a lot easier, and for less than at a convention center. For the consumer, there’s no charge for parking and no admission because we don’t have to recoup any of those expenses.”
According to Miller, the Jamestown show will feature about 15 boats, a combination of sail and power, in the Conanicut Marine basin and on the lawn. Among the boats lined up so far are the new 23-foot J/70 from J Boats, a 41- foot 1997 Tartan 4100, a 16-foot 2012 Jericho Bay Lobster Skiff, and a 40-foot 2010 MJM 40z Downeast.
The MJM boat will be available for demo rides. Also, visitors will be welcome to board each displayed, much like they are allowed to do at the fall show in Newport.
Brokerage activities won’t be the only attraction at the show. The Narragansett Sailing School will offer sailing and docking lessons for $25. The two-hour clinics will cover basic sailing instruction, turns and docking on cruising sailboats ranging from 30 to 36 feet. The Conanicut Marine Ship’s Store will hold its spring sale to coincide with the event.
The Rhode Island Boat Show is designed to be family and pet friendly. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 4 and 5. In addition to Latitude, East Coast Yacht Sales, Berthon USA and Bavaria Yachts will have boats displayed at the show.
“The show has now become a Rhode Island marina day,” Miller said. “It’s an open house. We’re trying to get people into this state to show people what the state has to offer.”