Boaters can ‘dream about their next boat’ at the CT Spring Boat Show in Essex, April 30-May 2

ESSEX – It’s time to forget the desolate sight of shrink-wrapped boats in dry dock or sitting on trailers in a wintry landscape.

The 5th Annual Connecticut Spring Boat Show, April 30-May 2 at the Essex Island Safe Harbor Marina, promises to usher in the spring-summer boating season and is one of the first major outdoor events on the shore.

“This is the first of the biggest events that are reopening Connecticut,” said Sarah Wadle, spokesperson for the event.

After the show was canceled last year due to COVID-19, many boaters are even more eager to attend this first in-water boat show of the season, Wadle said.

“It’s kind of like the start of the upcoming sailing season,” she said. And, there is a lot of anticipation for the show from people considering buying a yacht or even those just looking.

“Boaters are excited, even though they currently own boats. They always want to see what’s new, what’s coming, what’s to come,” Wadle said.

“They are dreaming of their next boat,” added Wadle. “So going to the boat show creates a kind of excitement for the season.”

Wadle noted that there had been an “explosion” in boat sales in 2020 due to the pandemic, coupled with the state boat tax being lowered from 6.35% to 2.99%, l previous year in 2019.

During the pandemic, boating was an easy and safe way to spend time with immediate family doing an outdoor activity and even meeting friends to socialize, Wadle said.

With boating, you’re “on the water and you can raft with another boat and keep a social distance of 6 feet,” she said.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection reported that new ship registrations nearly doubled in 2020 from the previous year, according to Wadle. In 2019, more than 5,559 licenses were issued to new boat owners, compared to 11,000 in 2020.

Raises funds for Sails Up 4 Cancer

But the boat show is not just about boating. The event will raise funds for Sails Up 4 Cancer (SU4C), a Mystic-based non-profit organization that aids cancer care, education, prevention and research. Approximately 50% of ticket sales will go to Sails Up 4 Cancer.

In 2019, the show raised $15,000 for Sails 4 Cancer, with approximately 2,500 people attending. This year, however, show organizers aren’t expecting as many visitors due to COVID guidelines – around 1,500 and hope to collect 10,000, according to Wadle.

Three-day tickets will be offered at $20 per adult and free for children 13 and under, giving access to the show all weekend.

From luxury ships to electric ships

At the show, visitors will see everything from a 64ft luxury motor yacht with lavish interiors, a sleek and stylish Oceanis sailboat, to a handsome electric motorboat with a surrey roof, called the Duffy, considered the “golf cart” of boats, traveling almost noiselessly at 5 to 7 mph.

The only Duffy electric boat sales representative in the state, Robert Butler of Electric Boats of Connecticut, noted that this was the first year the Duffy would be at the show.

The California-created Duffy is meant to “go around the bay” and socialize, enjoy sunsets and cocktails, Butler said.

The boats are very popular in the warm waters of Florida and California or on the lakes in areas where they don’t allow motorboats or in no-wake areas.

The design of the short tour boat was inspired by the common golf cart and uses 16 golf cart style batteries, which have a 12 hour battery life. When charging, according to Butler, it maintains battery health.

No special charging stations are needed, as he noted, “Every marina has shore power.”

He added that although the Duffy has a 3.5 horsepower electric motor, it’s “torquey – think Tesla,” meaning it has more power than it looks. He noted that it got around 12 hours of battery life when fully charged.

“You just leave it plugged in” when connected.

But, the Duffy isn’t something you would take on a fishing trip: “It’s an addition to your favorite boat,” he said. “When you’re back home and want to watch the sunset and enjoy the peace and quiet on the water.”

Butler, whose Duffy is docked in Mystic, said he cruised in his boat “The OptiMystic” to Stonington and then to Watch Hill, RI, as well as rides on the Connecticut River.

Lots to see on earth

In addition to boat exhibitors and brokers who sell used boats, there will be land vendors and artisans, selling fishing and boating gear, accessories, nautical-inspired decorative items and maritime service companies on the lawn.

Landowners or spouses of boaters may enjoy visiting shore vendors because “you can buy Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts there,” Wadle said.

One exhibitor, Fred Heine of Boatique in Chester, specializing in designer cushions, bespoke bedding and boat interior design services, is particularly looking forward to the show, mainly because it is local and in the water.

“It’s the first show of the year that has a lot of boats – sailing and motor – in the water,” Heine said.

“A major difference between this and a show that is held in a coliseum or hall” where they are limited in the size of the ship due to logistics.

At the Essex Boat Show, “They can have a 40ft sailboat there, fully rigged and they can take it out for a sail – you can’t do that when it’s on a trailer somewhere in a hall.”

And, the Essex show is New England’s premier boat show of the season, Heine said, noting that other nautical boat shows are usually held in September, “and the season is over.”

“If you wanted to come and buy a boat for this season, this is the place to go,” he said.

To get to the boat show, guests can take a small passenger ferry a 2-minute ride to the island’s marina from Ferry Street; free parking is in town.

Once at Essex Island Safe Harbor Marina, people can eat outside in tents or visit the Siren Restaurant.

A wide range of new and brokerage, motor and sail models of all sizes, from 20ft to over 35ft from Brig, Burger, Chris Craft, Destino, Duffy Snug Harbor, Eastern, Everglades, Excess Catamarans will be on display and for sale. , Grand Banks, Hinckley, Island Packet, Jenneau, Jupiter, Limestone, Nordstar, Oceanis, Ocean Master, Sea Hunt, Southport, USMI 11 Meter Naval Special Warfare RIB, Viking and many other top boat brands.

In addition to boats on the docks, the show will host yacht brokers, equipment, artists, props and service companies on the lawn. Exhibitors include: Boatique USA, Brewer Yacht Sales, Candock Modular Docks/Suzuki Marine, Captain Morgan’s Boat Training and Charters, LLC, Caryn B Davis Photography Connecticut Waters, Conversations with Classic Boats, Chester Point Marina, Chestnut Health Navigation, Current Boating Education , Eastern Yacht Sales, Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, Hook’d Fishing Gear Co., Hydrangea Blue Design, InnSeason Resorts, Ipswich River Craft, McMichael Yacht Brokers, Ltd., Ram Jack, Renewal by Andersen of Southern New England, Sails Up 4 Cancer, Windcheck Magazine, Yelena Talamekki Designs and others.

The show is a production of WindCheck Magazine and hosted by Essex Island Safe Harbor Marina. Show sponsors include BMW, Essex Boat Works, Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, Gowrie Group, Yacht Brokers Association of America (YBAA).

Visit for specific event details.

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