Trying to get a feel for a boat while it sits on a showroom floor is like trying to dance with a mannequin; unless both parties are capable of independent motion, the experience is incomplete . . . and weird. That's why "in water" boat shows are the only way to prospect for your next cruiser, ketch or kayak, and it's also why Lake Champlain Burlington Boat Show Director Mike O'Brien was surprised to find himself inventing a Vermont version from scratch.
After years of running the Antique Boat Show (held this year in Westport, N.Y.), O'Brien asked local distributors if they'd be interested in sponsoring a new-boat event. "Their reaction was the proverbial, 'Why didn't we think of that before?'" O'Brien recalls, smiling.
Free to the public, the show will run June 13-15 at the Burlington Boat House. Dealers will come from both Vermont and Eastern New York, including The Boat Works Inc. in Colchester, Boat Headquarters in Swanton and Northeast Marine Group in Coeymans, N.Y. More than 100 vessels will be in the water, with a number of land displays at the Main Street Landing parking lot next to Union Station.
In keeping with lake-culture modesty, you won't see the mega-yachts of a Ft. Lauderdale or Newport Boat Show, but medium-sized cabin cruisers will be in attendance, as will open-cockpit ski boats, day sailers and smaller craft such as skiffs and canoes. The list of attendees includes some pretty spiffy boat makers, including Hunter and C&C Yachts in the sailboat category. Powerboat brands include Boston Whaler and Chris Craft. Our early nod in the "Most Likely to Frighten and/or Swamp Kayakers" category has to go to the 2008 Chaparral 224 Xtreme, a 22-foot "wakeboarding/ski" boat, complete with 300 horsepower and custom audio with twin subwoofers. Dude!