November 7, 2002
To board the really big mega-yachts, you must be truly a serious buyer. They WILL check your credentials. For most of the "smaller" yachts, you just have to play the game. We dressed well, but not ostentatiously. You must register with the broker each time, so be prepared with a business card. Don't be surprised if you have to make an appointment for a couple of hours later. Don't ask to see the biggest yacht available. Settle for a smaller one and maybe you'll be able to get in to the bigger one, too. Make sure your feet or socks are clean! You will be asked to remove your shoes before boarding. Sometimes paper booties are supplied, but not always. It seems profiling does happen here. At one of the dealers, 2 women in front of us were told there were no more appointments available for the day and turned away. My husband and I were given an appointment with no problem. I guess we looked more like serious buyers. Many times you'll be given a tour by a crew member on that yacht. Ask questions about life aboard the boat!
We had many interesting conversations with crew, captains and even owners of these yachts. In 2 days (12 hours), we saw a very, very small fraction of the boats. In fact, we saw only a small portion of 1 marina, and there were 4 others! Free passes can be found if you chat up the right people. A couple sitting next to us at dinner one night worked the show and gave us passes for 1 day. The next day a man on the water taxi offered some extra passes to anyone who needed them, but we didn't speak up quickly enough. The cost is $14 for one day, $22 for 2 days. Other multi-day passes are also available.
The water taxis run constantly during the show. The cost is $8 per day for unlimited rides. You can take a water taxi from several, regular stops to the Bahia Mar Marina. From there, water buses will take you to any of the other marinas where the boat show is being held.
We were sitting on a water bus when the boat show officially closed for the year. Loud yacht horns blew for about 5 minutes signalling the end of this massive event.
From journal Yachts of Fun in Fort Lauderdale