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The woman was bellowing from behind a magazine rack. I was 10 years old, at my first Newport International Boat Show, and really into boats. Having pleaded with my parents to get a boat for the better part of a year, here we were, and my eyes were as wide as winches.

The family plan was not to buy a boat that day, but rather to take it all in and see what was around. Still, I was living the dream. More than 30 years later, I can’t recall a single boat we saw at that show, but I can vividly recall my excitement from just being there. It didn’t matter that it was cool and drizzly; I was strolling the docks and tents with my mom and dad, praying to the boating gods that we’d find “the one.” I can still hear the flags flapping in the northerly, taste the clam chowder in all of its dill and potato glory, and feel the nylon line in my hands from tying a bowline again and again.

I got my time under three seconds and won a subscription to my favorite magazine back then: SAIL. Today, Passagemaker is a sister publication to SAIL, and I can’t pick up a copy without remembering that day in Newport. Soon, it’ll be my kids pulling my wife and me down the docks, pointing at every boat and asking, “Can we go on this one? Can we?”

I can’t wait.

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is one of the world's biggest.

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is one of the world's biggest.

Whether or not you’re in the market for a new boat, I hope you’re planning to attend one of the upcoming shows, with Fort Lauderdale later this month and Miami and Palm Beach early next year, I highly recommend it. These shows are a great opportunity to inspect some of the finest new models and boating products on the market, many of which you’ll find in the pages of this issue.

Boat shows are also a good time to connect with old friends and like-minded enthusiasts, and to tap the knowledge of industry experts. In our Boat Buyer’s Survival Guide on page 58, we’ve gathered some of our shared expertise to help you make the most of your time at the shows. Use what’s in these pages while you’re shopping, but by all means, also leave some time to wander and wonder and take in the boat-show scene.

Or, just be like a 10-year-old enjoying the show as if it’s your first time. The flags still flap, the chowder still satiates all the senses, and the boats, well, they never cease to make dreamers dream.

And if anyone offers you a free subscription to Passagemaker if you can tie a bowline in less than three seconds, come find me on the docks. I still have the technique.

This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue.