Boat Show Shenanigans

3 November 2008 By Louisa Beckett

This year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show drew a gratifying number of spectacular superyachts and beautiful people to the docks at the Bahia Mar Marina. But, as my mother used to say, “Pretty is as pretty does,” and not all of these beautiful people were on their best behavior when it came to touring the boats.

Now we’re not talking about outright theft or damage here -- these days, the shipyards, charter agencies and brokerage firms with yachts on display at the show will vet the show goers scrupulously before letting them up the gangway, making sure they aren’t looters or "Looky Lous." (This also cuts down on the number of “Whistling Gophers” -- people who can’t resist asking the captain at the end of the tour, “What’s she go fer?” then letting out a long, low whistle.)

Still, it’s amazing how many other sorts of bad behavior captains and crew will see on board their yachts during a boat show.

Kids on board were a bugaboo for Capt. Chuck Connett, relief skipper of the brand new 118-foot Sea Legend, which had a prominent spot at the Hargrave Custom Yachts display. He was on his way to the guest accommodations when he heard a commotion below. “As I went down the steps, some kids were jumping up and down on the stateroom bed, just like they were at home,” he said.

Capt. Connett heard that the captain of neighboring boat at the show also had a run in with an unruly urchin. “They let some people on board with a small child, and the kid was kicking a bottle cap across the floor of the galley,” Connett said. “The captain saw that and threw everyone off the boat.”

A child also confounded Capt. Bill Sturgeon of the 128-foot Palmer Johnson Mia Elise, which was offered both for charter and sale by IYC. At the end of one tour of the yacht, a 10-year-old boy was reported missing by his mom. The captain sent out a search party and eventually found the boy in the aft starboard corner of the flybridge, hunkered down behind a chair, reading a book. “He was down low, so you really couldn’t see him,” Capt. Sturgeon said.

Although it’s an iron-clad rule on Mia Elise that every tour of the yacht is accompanied by a member of the crew, another pair of guests deliberately got “separated” from their group. “We lost them in the middle of the tour,” he said. It turns out the couple was making out on the upper deck.

That’s mild, of course, compared with incidents reported by other boats during shows gone by, including stateroom doors that were mysteriously locked and later opened by sheepish showgoers with hair and clothes in disarray.

Well, kids will be kids and amorous encounters are human nature, but some people’s boat show behavior is just plain bizarre. “We had a woman – a prospective buyer – look underneath all the tables,” Capt. Sturgeon said. “She wanted to see if there was any gum stuck there.”

Have you experienced any boat show shenanigans on board your yacht? Let us know.