On an unusual wet and windy March afternoon in West Palm Beach, the 32nd Annual Palm Beach International Boat Show introduced an impressive line of the world’s most sophisticated yachts and boats at the Palm Beach Harbor Marina. Thousands of people thronged to the waterfront—some out looking to shop around, while others imagined themselves stretching their sea legs with their potential new toys.
Produced by Show Management of Fort Lauderdale and ranked as one of the top five boat shows in the country, the Palm Beach International Boat Show featured more than $1.2 billion worth of boats, yachts, and accessories from the world’s leading manufacturers. The show did not just cater to boat aficionados, but to everyone wanting to explore the world of boating and all things nautical.
To encourage boat owners and potential owners to develop the offshore cruising skills and confidence to use their boats and yachts, the show scheduled throughout the four-day event sail fishing classes and cruiser seminars for adults, as well as kid’s fishing clinics taught by boat captains and professional anglers. At the same time, the classes provided individuals, young and old, a place where they could be in the company of others who seek the ultimate boating experience.
Looking at the transformed marina, which provided multiple ramps bridging the expanse from land to water, there seem to be a marine vessel on either side for every taste and budget. Some of my favorites included the Solange, a 279-foot trans Atlantic cruiser presented by Moran Yacht & Ship, which is valued at about $166 million; the 137-foot impressive Mediterranean beauty called Bread by Stotler Yachts with an equally impressive price tag of $10 million; and Boats Direct USA’s Deep Impact 330 TE 33-foot speed boat, which has been developed for the serious fisherman looking for extreme speed, quality, rigging and ride.
Among the finest luxury motor yachts making an appearance was the Riviera Australia, an inviting looking fleet that is hand crafted by Australia’s most awarded luxury motor yacht builders. Riviera Australia’s state-of-the-art manufacturing yacht facility is located on Australia’s Gold Coast, spanning 14 hectares, and is the largest of its type in the Southern Hemisphere. In North America they have a full-time team of international sales, technical, and marketing professionals based in Stuart, Florida, and like all other marine companies in attendance at the boat show, they were here because like one of their sales representatives said, “We want to sell some boats!”
In the global luxury motor yacht market, the name Riviera stands synonymous on an international scale with hallmark luxury, technology, and blue-water sea keeping ability. Presented at the boat show were their newly launched Riviera and Belize 48-foot and 54-foot luxury motor yachts that are part of their Sport Yacht Collection, and, are engineered for Australia’s challenging offshore conditions. Their contemporary architecture and interior design added to their relaxed entertaining style—putting pleasure and comfort into luxury boating.
As people took their shoes off to go onboard the vessels, you could hear the lively conversations happening between them and the boats’ sales representatives. You could tell who was out looking to experience the moment versus who was there seriously looking to make a new purchase. I noticed that the latter focused on the numbers—mainly about the boat’s construction: measurements, multi-function displays, steering, propellers, plus pod drives, and engines. Yes, I must admit that I learned a thing or two from this boat show.
Naturally, everyone would have agreed if asked that there’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of blue-water cruising or the very special memories that last a lifetime, and are oftentimes the catalyst of long-lasting friendships.
I still remember the first time my uncle took my cousin and me out on a fishing boat. We sailed out of the Palm Beach Harbor Marina and embarked on a memorable experience. It started with the anticipation the night before to packing everything on the boat the next day, as we stopped for a moment to gaze at the magnificent sunrise. We didn’t return home until we watched the sun sink into South Florida’s east coast and applauded its exit. As I remember, it didn’t really matter that I didn’t catch a fish, although my uncle caught plenty. That night, we celebrated that special day by having the fish for dinner. I don’t know whether it was because he caught it and prepare it, but it was the best tasting fish I’ve ever had.
Last Sunday, as the Palm Beach International Boat Show was coming to an end, people began to gradually leave the marina and walk back to their cars. I was walking in step with a middle-aged couple talking about life. “Life is too short to settle for less,” the man said. The woman nodded as she looked down at the blue and gray brochure in her hands. The words Riviera printed on the cover in bold white letters caught my eye. Good choice, I thought as I smiled and kept walking on Flagler Drive, already anticipating next year’s boat show.