We’re pretty lucky here at Navigator Publishing. Not only do we get to work on two great magazines &mdash Ocean Navigator and Professional Mariner &mdash but we also have a boat show right in our yard. The Maine Boatbuilder’s Show is held every March here at Portland Yacht Services; in the complex of former mill buildings where our offices are located. The main building of the show is a former steam locomotive factory. But now, instead of locomotives the Maine Boatbuilder’s Show presents a stunning selection of beautiful boats, both sail and power, for showgoers to peruse, ask questions about, and maybe fall in love with (I fall for several boats every year and am crushed when they are carted away at show’s end). It is well worth the effort to come up (or down) to Portland and see this show. After all, Miami may have the biggest boat show, but it isn’t held in an old locomotive factory right on the harbor.
From the press release: Maine’s Boatbuilding Industry will be in the spotlight during the 23rd Maine Boatbuilders Show, March 19-21st in Portland, Maine. The reputation of the show has attracted a solid component of select builders from Connecticut to Canada who are comfortable joining a celebration of the finest craftsmanship offered any where. Held at the Portland Company Marine Complex on Fore Street, this show is unique among boat shows in that the booths are manned by the builders themselves rather than salespeople. Many of the 200 companies that exhibit their products at this show only exhibit at one or two other shows a year.
The show provides an important outlet for boatbuilders from Maine, Canada and New England to showcase everything from small rowboats to power boats and sail boats of every size, using traditional construction methods alongside the latest in cutting-edge composite technology. It provides a venue to highlight the on-going importance of the Maine’s 400-year-old maritime history. Today, boatbuilding is Maine’s 3rd largest employer in the manufacturing sector.
The enduring appeal of the show comes from the boats. Phin Sprague, founder/owner of the show and a boatbuilder himself, says “The boats are spectacular. Well conceived by boaters, for boaters. The quality of the boats increases every year. Our finest builders will be here and the grace of their boats and craftsman ship ranks them among the finest in the world. They offer quality and value for those who know what they want.” Over 50 Boats will be on display.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) exhibit at the show, making it a great place for boat owners to learn more about maintaining and updating their boats. “The people that make and distribute the paints, batteries, steering systems and electronics are here, happy to speak with you specifically about your boat,” says Sprague.
The economy has challenged the boatbuilding industry over the last year. Boatbuilders have forged ahead, adopting new technologies to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. “One thing I have noticed this year is several new businesses exhibiting, younger boatbuilders who have ventured out on their own. The next generation is taking over, says Joanna Sprague, the shows organizer. Phin adds “It hasn’t been an easy year, but they are a tough lot of survivors. That makes the ones here that much more precious.”
The show is expected to draw 10,000 people at the Portland Company Marine Complex, located at 58 Fore Street in Portland. Admission is $15.00 per day at the door. A free lecture series about many aspects of boats and boat ownership will be presented at the show. Children under 12 accompanied by adults will be admitted free. It is open to the public and will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 21.
To learn more about the Maine Boatbuilders Show, go to www.portlandcompany.com/boatShow