MIAMI BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 11: People attend the 69th annual Miami International Boat show on February 11, 2010 in Miami Beach, Florida. The five-day event draws tens of thousands of visitors each year and has more than 2,000 exhibitors from around the world. The Miami Beach Convention Center and Sea Isle Marina & Yachting Center hosts the thousands of boats and hundreds of booths showcasing the latest gear and accessories. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
There's a huge tangle of boats, $3 billion worth, and a ton of people gawking at them, climbing on them, and dreaming about them at this year's Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. The show is staged at five sites, but most of the big attractions are docked at the Hall of Fame Marina and Bahia Mar.
"It's fantastic, lot of people, beautiful weather, beautiful boats," said one man who drove down from Cocoa Beach.
One of the show's largest and most luxurious yachts, the 190-foot-long Mi Sueno which means "My Dream" in Spanish, is a vessel most of us can only dream of owning. Every inch of this nautical masterpiece screams opulence, from the blue granite flooring to the wine cellar to the hot tub on deck. Mi Sueno can take you around the world if your pockets are as deep as the ocean.
"If you have $54.8 million dollars it can be yours," captain Doug Peterson said. Or you can charter it for $325,000 a week. Either way, you could take a luxury cruise every week for a year on a commercial cruise ship and not come close to spending that much.
But the show isn't just for corporate CEOs or Ponzi schemers. There are plenty of affordable, built-for-normal-people fishing or touring boats for sale, and the public is flocking to the show. Ticket sales are up over last year.
"This show is very international, we have 38 countries that participate, people fly in from all over the world," said Dane Graziano, the show's organizer. "People don't realize that we have more private jets that arrive here than in a Superbowl, in fact our economic impact is larger than a Superbowl, almost twice as large, and it happens every year."
"Are we slow due to the economy? Absolutely, but there's reason for optimism, we expect this to be a better show than what we experienced last year," said Alton Herndon, president of Bertram Yachts.
So while you can buy a submarine at the show, there's no metaphor there. The boat show is strong, and the industry is staying afloat.