Though these events have traditionally been very distinct, the no-longer-appropriately-named “Strictly Sail” has unfortunately now been devoured by the vastly larger powerboat focused Miami International Boat Show. To our disappointment, there were only two docks featuring sailboats at the show. And to make matters worse, the two docks were 1.5 miles apart – requiring a trip on a water taxi (that ran just once an hour?!!?) or a shuttle bus trip to get between them.
Nevertheless, we had a great time checking out boats and the expo on Saturday, and on Sunday spending a day attending the Strictly Sailing seminars.
Here are some of the highlights:
The Miami International Boat Show was huge – filling up every nook and cranny of the Miami Beach Convention Center and a vast area outdoors as well. We couldn’t have seen it all if we had spent all five days at the show. And since we were eager to get to the sailboats, we ended up not staying long at the main expo area at all.
We did check out practical things for our current RV life as well as our future boating aspirations, such as folding bikes and inflatable kayaks:
And some rather odd items, like a floating dog (why not for cats?) bed and an “instant” wine chiller:
There was also lots of cool gadgetry to be found, such as dive masks with integrated cameras, and solar powered refrigerators:
I was really pleased to see so much “green” technology on display at the show, particularly in the separate expo area targeting sailors. In sharp contrast to the RV Show that we went to last month, here we found lots of solar panels, LED lighting, wind generators, and more.
The boat we most wanted to see was the Gemini 105Mc catamaran, and it mostly lived up to our expectations:
The 34′ long Gemini has an incredibly well laid out interior, and it is perfectly sized for a single traveling couple with space for occasional guests. We really loved the hanging couch on the back that also serves as a solar panel mount.
The other catamaran that really impressed us was the innovative little TomCat 9.7:
The 32′ TomCat packs a lot into an even smaller space than the Gemini. The layout feels extra spacious because there is so little dividing up the interior space – the kitchen, main salon, and master stateroom are all open to each other with only curtains for separation. It reminds me of the interior layout of our Oliver in that regard.
All of the other catamarans on display were overly large, and packed with cabins for the charter market. And while a large salon area is nice, and we like the idea of a raised upstairs galley – a boat featuring up to FOUR bathrooms is not anything that we would want even if we could somehow afford such a monster.
After running out of catamarans to look at, we then turned our focus towards the monohulls.
Most of the models on display were either tiny day sailers, or cruisers vastly too large to interest us. When we asked why so few 30′ – 40′ boats were on display we were told that it was because the “middle class has stopped buying sailboats” and that only the most extravagant yachts were worthwhile to bring out to the boat shows. Interesting.
One of the monohulls that did catch our eye was the incredibly innovative Seaward 32RK:
Thanks to its retractable keel design, the Seaward 32RK can operate in less than two feet of water. It has a large, comfortable, well designed interior. And it is actually even trailerable!
The other boat that really impressed us was the beautifully designed Catalina 375:
More than any other boat that we toured, the interior layout of the Catalina 375 felt like it would make for a comfortable long-term home. We started the weekend biased towards catamarans, but thanks to the Catalina we left it completely open to a monohull as well.
Despite fewer sailboats on display than we had hoped to see, our trip to the boat show served its purpose well. We now have a much better idea around the sizes, layouts, brands, and features that felt best to us. Armed with this research, we’ve already started to begin distilling down what we want in our ideal boat.