This year it's almost as if the show producers plan was to depend on word-of-mouth from prior boat show attendees to produce the crowd. And the "free parking with on-line ticket purchase" thing? Gone this year too. Luckily tho we found free (it was Sunday, and we were early) on-street parking.
So I have to say that, using the Seattle Boat Show as some kind of indicator of the health of the marine industries, I must admit I was apprehensive going in. It just didn't look good.
And after attending, I can't say it looked good either. Attendance at the show was light. I can't even say it was anywhere near as large as the last time we went, when the crowds were so heavy that it was hard to walk, and there were long lines for boarding the large boats.
For a sailor, the show at the Expo center was a huge disappointment. There was one forlorn sailboat - a Little Harbor 28, waay over in the far corner. That's it. And the wake boats and aluminum river sleds, which have in the past been relegated to the tunnel by the pressure of the large boat manufactures like SeaRay, Bayliner, et. al. for main floor space? Well they had bled out into the main floor, occupying perhaps 25% of the space. Apparently the big boat manufacturers did not want to pony up the bucks for floorspace this year. And I can't say I blame them, with the price for a 25 foot boat now approaching $100,000, sales must be slim.
And here's the final insult. I took the exit survey at the Expo show when we were leaving. One of the questions asked what kind of boat we had.
"Sail" was not one of the choices.
It's become the Seattle Power Boat Show.
In the credit-where-credit-is-due department, I must say that the gear and accessories in the side halls seemed to be about the same as always - and they were seeing lots of business (and I contributed - I bought a pair of scuba gloves). And despite the rain, we enjoyed touring the new and previously owned sailboats at the Lake Union in-the-water show. There more used boats this year, a pleasant surprise.