by CYNTHIA GOSS
For Rhode Islanders, boating season is over — unless you’re a frostbiter who braves the cold to get your racing fix. But for a few days this January, New England boaters can indulge in their passion for being on the water by heading to the Providence Boat Show. The 20th running of the show will be held January 18-20 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, RI.
“The Providence Boat Show is an opportunity for local boaters to attend the first show of the season and kick off their plans for the coming year,” said Tom Delotto, Director of Newport Exhibition Group, which owns and manages the show.
The three-day event will feature gear, equipment, and boats and more boats: from power and sail to inflatables, dinghies, even pontoon boats and personal watercraft. According to Delotto, powerboats traditionally outweigh the sailboat contingent, but each year the show attracts a fleet of sail — from small dinghies to mid-size racers and cruisers. A total of 150 exhibitors are expected to attend.
In addition to boats and equipment, show organizers have placed heavy emphasis on a three-day Sportfishing Seminar Series hosted by Captain Jack Sprengel of East Coast Charters. Advanced and casual anglers will learn tips and tricks from the pros, such as Ron Z and John Carlson, on fishing in local waters. There is also a series of seminars on safety, navigation and technology for sailors and powerboaters hosted by marine training school Boatwise. The Boatwise seminars also include some unique topics such as “Starting a Charter Business: Making Money with Your Boat” and “Suddenly Singlehanded,” covering what every first mate should know to run their boat and safely reach port in an emergency. All seminars are free with the purchase of a boat show ticket.
The booth for the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA) is a must-see for showgoers. According to the organization’s CEO Wendy Mackie, RIMTA is heading to the show this year with a dedicated focus: to help attendees learn what the Ocean State and its industry offer to boaters. Rhode Island has an enviable tax policy when it comes to boating purchases. There is no sales tax on boats that are delivered and registered in the state. The no-sales-tax policy also applies to boating services such as mooring and slip fees, winter storage, and refit and repair work (except for the parts and products used in the work). A large portion of the New England boating public are already aware of this tax advantage (some 46% of the tenants at slips and moorings in Rhode Island are from out of state), but RIMTA hopes to help more individuals look at the potential of making Rhode Island their boating home.
During the show, RIMTA will also offer tours with experts. The tours are not only geared toward those looking for guidance about boats, equipment and services; individuals interested in marine careers can also get an overview of the regional industry and the types of career opportunities that exist in the field. At press time, there were four RIMTA tours scheduled for Friday afternoon, mid-day Saturday and Saturday afternoon, and midday Sunday. Showgoers should check in at the RIMTA booth on their arrival to confirm tour times.
For members of the industry, RIMTA has worked closely with show organizers to make the Providence show an annual summit conference for the local marine trades. On opening day, RIMTA will host an industry roundtable on “The Next Generation of Boaters.” On the day prior to show opening, RIMTA has organized a series of professional development workshops to give business owners the information they need to successfully run their operations. Sessions will touch on social media marketing, human resources, healthcare reform, financial planning, and legislative topics that affect the marine trades. For more information, visit RIMTA.org.
To get the latest information on the Providence Boat Show — including tickets, an exhibitor list, event news and information on show specials and deals — visit providenceboatshow.com or connect with this annual New England event for boaters on Facebook.