How do you showcase more than 3,000 boats by 2,000 companies for 100,000 visitors? Well, the first thing you have to do is secure not one, but three venues. That's how they do things at the annual Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail. The event, which takes place at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Sea Isle Marina and Miamarina at Bayside during President's Day weekend, is the place to be for boating, fishing, watersports, sailing, diving and travel enthusiasts looking for the latest in vehicles, gear and equipment. Here are some highlights.
1. Get on board
Serious shoppers can get in the captain's seat at the New Yacht & Power Boat Show at Sea Isle Marina and take a "test drive" of the latest models for sale. For those that want to learn new techniques and skills, Discover Boating hosts 60-minute and three-hour clinics aboard a variety of power boats and sailboats including an exclusive presentation, Introduction to Cruising Catamarans. Sign up for the clinics in advance or you will be left on land. But that's just fine, you can always sign up to try out the Sailing Simulator and take a virtual ride on the waves.
2. Gear up
Sailors can get their hands on the latest sailing gear, accessories and hardware from top industry suppliers along with the latest charter information at Strictly Sail Miami. The Miami Beach Convention Center will have marine engines, electronics and accessories, nautical gifts and apparel, services and more. Bonus: Many of the vendors will be offering deals that will only be available during the show, so this may be the right time to upgrade or stock up.
3. Plan a trip
Forget the cruise ships, charters are where it's at. Plan your next exotic escapade at Vacation Basin at Strictly Sail where you can learn about charter destinations and romantic getaways. Be careful, you might end up booking a trip right on the spot.
4. Brush up
Having trouble docking or anchoring? Confused by your new boat's electrical system? Need to learn the proper way to weather a storm? The Boat Show offers five days of seminars with experts that can help troubleshoot and make recommendations so you are prepared for anything. Master sailor Jimmy Cornell, who has sailed 200,000 miles, will also be offering a master class in long distance cruising. Also visit Fred's Shed at the Convention Center for free sessions offering practical professional advice on a number of topics.
5. Sail away
Strictly Sail wants to reward people who harbor a passion for sailing. Head to their Facebook page and give them a "like" then submit a photo that demonstrates just how much you love being out at sea. The most passionate entry wins a Cupid’s Couples Dream Charter courtesy of Dream Yacht Charters (value $5000). Pictures can be uploaded to Facebook for judging until Feb. 13. One entry per person.The winner will be announced on Valentine’s Day.