Marine News from the Great Lakes

EZ Trip Planning

Published: Wednesday, January 8, 2020
By: Dan Armitage

One of the prime benefits of attending your local winter boat show is the ability to see and compare the latest boats and accessories in person and under one roof. You can talk to dealers and even factory reps in person and often across the aisle from each other, asking questions and discussing products, service, and warranties.

That’s great if you are in the market for a new boat or gear, but for most of us we own an able vessel and, other than the ongoing task – or joy, depending on how you look at it – of maintaining and accessorizing the family boat, this time of year we simply anticipate the fun of using it the following season.

That’s where a visit to the local boat show can also be worth its weight in ethanol-free fuel. Literally, in the case in which you need to locate marinas and gas stations that offer fuel free of the damaging additive. Most marinas exhibiting at the expos are eager to advertise the fact that they offer quality boating fuel in an attempt to draw customers.

Beyond the fuel asset feature, however, boat shows are a great resource for boaters who are looking for new dockage and destinations. Many show producers offer separate blocks or aisles of travel exhibitors offering information about boat-accessible destinations for guests who are seeking an interesting place to go, be it with their boat in tow or via an extended cruise.

You can begin your destination search before even setting foot on the show floor by studying the website offered by the producers of most boat shows. By establishing a maximum limit on the distance of the cruise or the tow you want to take to get there, you can start narrowing down the options. Doing the same with the budget for the trip will further eliminate some destinations beforehand and allow you to concentrate your show time on those that are in the range of both your travel and budget. Develop a list of features you want your host destination to offer, from launch ramps and dockage with water and electrical hookups to on-site dining options and nearby boating destinations such as beaches and water accessible sights. If fishing is on the activity agenda, you might want to make sure the species of choice are available when and where you intend to visit. If children are traveling with you, you’ll want to know about any kid-friendly activities and sights that will be available.

Whether for a new place to visit on a weekend trip or an extended boat-based vacation, most of the destination exhibitors and travel bureaus at boat and sport shows realize what boaters seek and are there to share that information and answer questions. As convenient as it is to shop for a vacation destination online, as with buying a boat, nothing beats a face to face talk with a real life representative and nowhere offers better opportunities for those conversations than a boat show.

About the Author

Dan Armitage is a popular Great Lakes-based outdoor writer and host of the Buckeye Sportsman show (, syndicated weekly on 30 radio stations across Ohio. Dan is a certified Passport to Fishing instructor and leads kids fishing programs at Midwest boat and sport shows, and is a licensed Captain with a Master rating from the US Coast Guard.


This article first appeared in the Winter Issue (Jan/Feb) 2020 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.

tags: Lifestyle, Travel, Boat Show

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