As a teenager and young adult I used to attend the New York Boat Show in New York City every winter. I loved the atmosphere, the array of amazing boats (that I hoped to one day own), the smell of fresh marine construction, and all the “toys” and accessories on display. I learned from seminars, joined some groups, talked with natural resource exhibitors, came away with a sack full of literature, and just soaked it all in.
It was the result of attending a show as a 13-year-old that I bought my first new boat, a small Styrofoam sailboat, using money saved from a summer caddying job. I eventually came to own more boats than I care to admit, lest you consider me a boat hoarder. Today I usually attend some boat shows, somewhere, every winter.
You don’t need to be in the market for a new boat to attend a boat show, so look for one near you this winter. I’d also suggest that you visit a show that is out of your regional area to see what’s happening elsewhere in an “all-things boating” educational sense.
One of the best to attend is the Seattle Boat Show, February 2-10, 2024. Billed by producers as “the West Coast’s Biggest Boat Show,” this event has an enormous number of exhibitors, plus fishing and boating seminars and a two-venue setup, one having boats afloat at Bell Harbor Marina.
The main part of the Seattle Boat Show is held indoors at Lumen Field Events Center. All manner of nautical items will be exhibited there, including yachts, sailboats, all sizes of powerboats (including fishing boats), engines and motors, electronics, and marine accessories.
If you’re new to boating, be sure to seek out the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary exhibit (booth East 1028), where you’ll find a trove of helpful information about local navigation, boat handling, and boat safety matters. Also visit the Washington Sea Grant exhibit (booth East 1331), where you’ll find a potpourri of coastal and marine-resource educational materials.
Learning is one of the most important reasons for attending the Seattle Boat Show, February 2-10, 2024. The show offers attendees free one-hour boating and fishing seminars conducted by local experts, as well as longer classes with in-depth instruction at its Boat Show University. You can find a schedule of these events, as well as general info and tickets, at the show website and plan your visit to coincide with seminars and classes that are of most interest to you.
If you go to the West Coast’s biggest boat show in Seattle, be sure to wear comfortable clothes and footwear, and try to attend midday and mid-week, when the show is likely to be less busy, or on a poor weather day that keeps others at home. Bring the family, as your children will likely be fascinated by everything on display. Children 17 and under are admitted free, and there’s a free shuttle between the field center and marina.
If you’re a newbie interested in getting a boat for the first time, check out our boat comparison tool, which will help familiarize you with the different types of boats available so you’re more prepared for your show visit.