Try and try again, they dream of debuting their new line at the 2016 Miami International Boat Show.
They want to enter the boat with its flared hull and pouty tumblehome in the innovation awards but that means they must pay the hefty price of membership in the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the heftier price of securing exhibit space for the boat. They may get a space in a tent but they really want a slip in front of the Miami Marine Stadium as has been promised.
The cascade of problems is unimaginable to all but the insiders in the boating industry so you won’t read about it in a boating publication
One problem is that with winter closing in, Jim Bob like dozens of other boat builders has a logistical nightmare facing him to deliver a perfect, operational and beautiful boat for public inspection by February 10 of 2016, the last day to install his boat at the Miami International Boat Show.
That gives him about 60 days to cut or purchase the pieces that make a boat a yacht and install them flawlessly along with miles of wires and complex electronics.
Once he gets the hull ready the engines must be installed and tuned and tested so it runs like a champ amid the other 150 - 400 new boats on display at these new “Demo docks” the NMMA as been promising to provide for rental by installing temporary docks facing the Miami Marine Stadium.
For Billy Bob, the cost in overtime and special orders is devastating just to hit the deadline for launch. And the engine manufacturers are pretty much booked with their regular customer so Billy Bob is near the back of the line.
It is almost December and that leaves January and Billy Bob must chose between Christmas for his family and a run at boat show fame in early February.
Another problem is nobody can tell Billy Bob for sure if there will be a 2016 Progressive Insurance Miami International boat show or where they would put his new baby if there is one.
Like everyone else in the industry, Billy Bob has collateral to design and build for his new boat that links to advertising for the major event in the domestic boating industry. But even the NMMA, on the verge of Thanksgiving, cannot sell him an ad in their program or tell him what the schedule is likely to be. Following a recent inaction by the Miami Dade County Commission and attendant law suits, there is officially no boat show scheduled for February.
Until this year, MIBS was a ritualized routine produced by very experienced union installers and directed by a team that had done it all a dozen times before in the same space at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Sea Isle Marina and Bayside Marina for the sail boats.
Retail and the little boats went at the Convention Center by legacy, the longest exhibitors getting the best spaces and the new products relegated to the tents outside.
Boats in the water especially those for sea trial were exhibited at Sea Isle, a high-quality marina with easy access and suitable slips. Sailboats were shown at Bayside Marina, an equally accessible location.
NMMA sold the tickets and charged the exhibitors who all were required to join NMMA.
It has been known for years the Miami Beach Convention Center would not be available to host the show in 2016 and maybe never again. And yet the NMMA dithered with thinly designed hopes to create a miracle location amid a heap of dalloped cement and ram the in-water aspects of the boat show down the throat of the locals before they noticed.
Boat show exhibitors are familiar with showing their products under tents or temporary facilities. After Miami they move up the coast to Palm Beach and they will be coming down from Stuart. They build portable exhibits that are relatively easy to set up and take down.
None of the exhibitors at the Beach convention center offered test drives of boats so the loss of that facility should have made no difference. You could put the displays in any large space under a tent or in places including Marlins stadium and parking garages, that large area of open land in front of the Marine Stadium, the large empty piece of land on the bay front adjacent to the AA stadium, inside the AA stadium. Problem solved.
Except somebody in this mix decided it was a good time to snatch the Marine Stadium from the hands of historical do-gooders and turn it into a money maker for the City of Miami, Dade County and Key Biscayne.
Why settle for a nice little historic marine stadium with a floating stage and occasional events when this site can be developed into extinction?
Rather than pay Tibor Hollo and the Sea Isle folks to use their excellent marina for the in-water aspects of the boats show, rather than continue the convenience of on-site hotel and meeting room adjacent to the Sea Isle Marine, somebody decided to build “Land and in-water exhibit space for boats, including 700+ slips and fully customizable in-water exhibitor displays,” at the Marine Stadium, according to the NMMA website.
It may not be 700 slips with 700 boats and yachts trying to get into and out of the harbor at the Marine Stadium all at once. It might be “More than 1,200 boats on land and in the water with 400+ slips," to quote another part of the NMMA collateral.
Or it might be “demo docks feature more than 150 boats in the water for demonstrations and sea trials,” as stated in another place in the NMMA boat show literature. So with 60 days to go, if you are a boat builder you know nothing that approaches reality.
Let’s say you are Grady White with a dozen hot dealer prospects on the line to carry your 2016 Grady-White Center Console Canyon 306. You want those potential dealers and their potential clients to come to the boat show, get caught up in the frenzy and buy a boat.
Here is what you can tell them. Exhibitor: Grady-White Boats, Inc. 2016 Grady-White Center Console Canyon 306 Booth: A215 (building A Tent), A211 (building A Tent), TBD, 420 (building In Water), 418 (building In Water), 417 (building In Water), 416 (building In Water), 415 (building In Water), 414 (building In Water), 413 (building In Water), 412 (building In Water), 411 (building In Water)
But what if they don’t have enough slips to provide 7 slips just for this one model Grady White and two tents?
When will a builder know? How will you decide which boats to prepare for shipment? Boston Whaler has 16 in-water slips reserved.
According to the NMMA there are currently 113 different manufacturer listings for boats to be shown in the water at the show. There is no dock list, no schedule for unloading them and staging them. And there is certainly to plan to get the Coast Guard involved in managing this potential enormous traffic jam should the impossible come to pass and hundreds of test-drivers line up for a run.
With so little time left to do it even close to correctly, Miami’s boating community owes it to the world to think about the purpose of the show: presenting new boats to new boaters. Forget about the Marine Stadium.
Let’s build the tents in any logical large field – in and around Miami Marlins stadium would do fine - and leave the in-water boat exhibits at Sea Isle and Bayside. Or simply build the tents as planned at the Marine Stadium and forget about building a temporary marina, opting instead for Sea Isle. We spoke to the dock master at Sea Isle and he said as far as he knows the marina is not booked for February.