Opulence Dominates the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show

By - Nancy Terrell  (reprinted from Nautical Scene 2001)


When my partner, Dave Cooper, asked me if I would like to attend the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show I was really uncertain as to my answer.  The WTC disaster had occurred just six weeks before and I was not eager to travel.  However, my enthusiasm for finding new products for our 30-year-old classic trawler, Swan Song, coupled with the fact that I had never attended that particular show gave me the impetus to answer in the affirmative.


I am no stranger to boat shows having attending every show on the Eastern Coast of the U.S. in addition to those in Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Antigua, the USVI and the BVI, so I really thought that I knew what to expect.  However, nothing could have prepared me for the obtuse display of opulence that this show contained.  Held on October 25th - 29th, in six different locations, all on the canals of America's Venice, the show was the largest of its kind in North America.  Even the Miami Show does not have the in-the-water yachts that this event has.


The organization of the show was excellent and it is to the coordinators' credit that the event was so successful in light of the negative change in world incidents.  Because of the enormity of the occasion the only way to get around to the different locals was via water taxi - a truly inexpensive and delightful way to travel at only $8 a day.  Mile after mile of yachts were polished to a high gleam for high bidders.  I saw one vessel that chartered for $185,000 a week!  


The super wealthy on the planet are the real consumers of this show as these mega-yachts cost upwards of 100M.  We're talking about people that have at least $500 million in free funds.  Interestingly enough, there were very few U.S. flags on these yachts.  As "Big Toys for Rich Boys" these mega yachts were on display to showcase the builders (China, Holland, Italy & the UK) again mostly non-U.S. builders, as labour costs are prohibitive in the states.  The irony of all of this is that Muslim oil sheiks and their companies own a great many of the yachts that I saw.  However, I could easily understand the standpoint of those living in poverty in third world countries that view the world as a place of greed and affluence - a split society in which the rich get richer and the poor, poorer.


Despite this obvious realization, I did enjoy the trade part of the show with several hundred companies representing state of the art items for motor yachts ranging from boat wear & gear to electronics to generators to dinghies, etc.  The spirit of entrepreneurship, for which the western world is famous, was everywhere.  Ideas were battered around like ping pong balls and most of the yachtspeople that I know were into heavy discussions as to the advantages/disadvantages of this product over that.


The Virgin Islands were also well represented with Virgin Traders Yachts, of Nanny Cay Marina, being indicative of the best in chartering, as well as motor sales, in the BVI.  The BVI Tourist Booth, manned by Captain B.M Sallah of the BVI, also lifted my heart as I felt a small part of home.  Our Caribbean yachtsmen represented the camaraderie that is so very much a part of our islands and I watched with appreciation at their honest friendly smiles when greeting guests interested in vacationing in our islands.  


All in all, I'm glad I attended.  I had the opportunity to visit with old friends and upon deplaning at Beef Island; I looked up at the stars and thanked the Universe for granting me the pleasure of living in these islands - where beauty, friendship and nature are ranked more highly than material comforts.