The four-day Palm Beach International BoatShow cruises into town on March 23, bringing a sea of yachts, boats and marine accessories worth more than $1.2 billion.
The annual event, in its 32nd year, has grown to become one of the top boat shows in the United States, drawing tens of thousands of visitors to the downtown West Palm Beach waterfront during the height of the county’s tourism season.
This year’s show includes roughly 400 exhibitors, more than 700 boats in water and a few hundred boats on land, organizers said.
Boats on display will range from small inflatables and tenders to superyachts.
For the second year in a row, the largest boat at the show will be the 280-foot Solandge. The 2013 six-deck Lurssen yacht with an estimated price of $163.4 million can accommodate up to 16 guests in eight cabins. The vessel also features an owners’ deck and suite.
To accommodate the number of superyachts larger than 200 feet at this year’s show, a satellite location was set up at the Rybovich Marina. Private water tenders will transport interested buyers and charter clients to the marina, show organizers said.
“Exhibitors are reaching a different and very sought-after buyer at the Palm Beach show,” said Andrew Doole, senior vice president and COO of Show Management, the company that manages and produces the show. “Palm Beach attracts an affluent audience of boat and yacht owners who typically do not visit the shows in Fort Lauderdale or Miami Beach. Palm Beach is their show of choice.”
This year’s event will also include a host of educational activities, including free youth fishing clinics, IGFA School of Sportfishing seminars, long-range cruising clinics and on-the-water boat handling classes.
West Palm Beach already has begun restricting roads in preparation for this year’s show.
The city’s popular waterfront GreenMarket has been cancelled for the boat fair weekend, as have the weekly Clematis by Night festivities that would have been held Thursday, March 23.
There has been no word yet on whether President Donald Trump will be at his Mar-a-Lago Club this weekend , but some officials have raised concerns that boat show traffic, coupled with restrictions put in place during presidential visits, would be troublesome.
“It would be a complete disaster,” Palm Beach Public Safety Director Kirk Bloin told the Palm Beach Daily News. “We thought we had the perfect storm already.”
Chuck Collins, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, which owns the boat show, said a presidential visit would have no impact on the show.
Organizers met weeks ago with a handful of local officials to discuss boat traffic and waterway restrictions that are put in place during Trump’s visits.
“The critical part was getting the word out” to boat captains, Collins said.
That’s already been done, he added.
The show has grown as the county’s marine industries have surged.
From 2010 to 2014, marine-related sales in Palm Beach County increased by 101.2 percent, according to an economic impact study commissioned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida. The study found marine industries contribute nearly $2 billion to the local economy.
There are more than 40,000 registered boats and roughly 20,000 workers who are employed by the marine industry in Palm Beach County, according to industry leaders.
IF YOU GO
Palm Beach International Boat Show
When: Noon to 7 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Downtown West Palm Beach docks and waterfront