Boat Shows are a great place to learn

By Wayne Spivak
National Press Corps
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Every year, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), hold boat shows throughout the country. This year, is no different, and with over twenty shows, a large portion of the boating public can attend. NMMA is not alone in providing boat shows, as many local and regional boating associations and trade groups also provide this service.

Why am I extolling the virtues of boat shows? Aren't they just totally commercial ventures? The plain and simple answer is - yes and no.

Yes, boat shows are held so that the vendors can pitch their wares. Why else would the sponsoring groups go to such a risk on their capital, if there wasn't a financial reward at the end?

And No, boat shows offer more than just sales people.

Most shows have other interested boating groups attend (sometimes for free or a reduced rate), many of them are non-profit or volunteer, using the same venue as an outreach to their market, boaters. From environmental groups to boating education, search and rescue to law enforcement, each has something to offer to recreational boater.

One of the main reasons I have attended most of the last twenty New York City Boat Shows is that I like to see what's new in safety equipment. Where else, can I go, in one spot, and see the latest and the greatest! Sure, I look at the nice new big boats, that I can only afford when I marry that filthy rich heiress (don't tell my wife).

But let's get back to safety. At the New York Boat Show, if I was a new boater, or even a seasoned boater, there were groups that could provide me with important information about safety.

There was of course the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, handing out safe boating information, course schedules and teaching both children and adult alike with our own USCG Cutter Coastie!

There were the New York State Park Police, New York City Harbor Police and New Jersey State Marine Police to help people understand the laws in their particular areas of responsibility.

There were different groups that provide services to search and rescue groups and fisherman, the National Weather Service, and the Department of Environmental Protection.

All of these organizations are there to educate you, the boater in areas that are part of the larger landscape of recreational boating. Take advantage of these fine organizations to help make your sport a safer more environmentally safe sport.

What I failed to mention was all the commercial vendors who manufacture and distribute safety equipment. You'll usually find the manufacturer's at the larger boat shows. Here you can ask the actual product managers questions on how their product works, and what's on the drawing board.

Many of the vendor's have raffles, so if you're very lucky, you might walk away with a new EPIRB or PFD or survival suit! All the vendors have literature, and I strongly advise you to take and read them.

There is lots of important safety information contained in most vendors' literature, having nothing to do with direct sales information.

Did I mention that you might also win a boat, at one of these boat shows? So, take the family and go to a boat show, a marine event or festival this year. You may just walk away a smarter safer boater!

For more information on boating safety, contact your United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla by visiting us on the web at http://www.cgaux.org/or contacting your local Coast Guard unit http://www.uscg.mil/.